Third Austrian leader after two months in office seeks stability | WSAU News / Talk 550 AM · 99.9 FM

By Francois Murphy

VIENNA (Reuters) – Austria’s third conservative prime minister in two months, Karl Nehammer, took office on Monday, seeking to lift the coalition government out of months of scandal-ridden turmoil and guide the country out of a state of affairs. current coronavirus lockdown.

Nehammer, 49, will be sworn in by President Alexander Van der Bellen at 1pm (1200 GMT). As interior minister since last year, he is an enforcer of former Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz’s hard line on immigration. Now, he will be the first head of government of the post-Kurz era.

Conservative star Kurz, 35, stunned the country by announcing on Thursday that he would step down as leader of the People’s Party (OVP) and step out of politics, saying he had lost interest since then. son was born last month. The party selected Nehammer to succeed him as leader on Friday.

Kurz stepped down as prime minister in October at the behest of his coalition partner, the leftist Greens, as he was under criminal investigation on suspicion of corruption. Kurz’s supporters had hoped he would quickly clear his name and return as prime minister. He denies any wrongdoing.

Prosecutors suspect Kurz’s allies used public funds to secretly carry out a manipulated vote published in a newspaper to help him gain power in 2017, the year he became president. became OVP leader and then prime minister, forming an alliance with the far right. Liberal Party.

Nehammer takes over a party in turmoil that since 2017 has mostly been built around Kurz.

Nehammer said Friday that he plans to keep the law and order agenda that has been central to Kurz’s appeal but also a point of conflict with the Greens. His first priority will be the coronavirus pandemic, he said, as Austria tries to keep infections down while shutting down next week’s shutdown.

He also has to fix the OVP’s damaged image as it has lost what most polls show as leading its closest rival, the Social Democrats by at least 10 percentage points, counting. since Kurz was investigated.

Neither the OVP nor the Greens have said they want a snap election now, but most analysts expect the coalition not to last until the end of this parliament in 2023. In a weekend newspaper interview, Greens leader Werner Kogler did not rule out a snap election next year.

(Editing by Angus MacSwan) Third Austrian leader after two months in office seeks stability | WSAU News / Talk 550 AM · 99.9 FM

Dais Johnston

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