Friday, January 21

Kurz’s exit from politics drags a crisis in the Austrian government




The Federal Chancellor of Austria, Alexander Schallenberg, last night put his position at the disposal of the president and his party, the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP), after his predecessor and president of the ÖVP, Sebastian Kurz, announce for his part that he abandons all his positions and retires from politics. “It is not my intention and it has never been my objective to assume the position of president of the ÖVP,” explained Schallenberg, Kurz’s henchman and appointed by the former chancellor as his successor at the head of the government after Kurz’s resignation on 9 September. October. “I am of the firm opinion that both offices, the head of government and the president of the federal party of the strongest party in Austria should meet quickly in one hand,” he justified.

According to various Austrian media reports, he will be the current Minister of the Interior, Karl Nehammer, who will assume the leadership of the ÖVP. He will also become, if the two chairs are to be occupied by the same person, the federal chancellor. This morning a meeting of the federal executive committee of the ÖVP is scheduled at which decisions will begin. Heading into this meeting, Kurz’s men in government are backing down in a chain. The Minister of Finance, Gernot Blümel, announced his resignation last night with a parallel speech to the one Kurz had made in the morning.

They put the game in the hands of Kurz

“I have decided to leave politics,” Blümel said in a statement posted on Facebook. One of the reasons for his decision, as he implied in that message, was the protection of his family. “The fact that my political activities and the internal political disputes that resulted from them repeatedly led to death threats against my wife and family is something that I have not fully overcome over the years.” He also acknowledged that Sebastian Kurz’s resignation was the final push for his decision. Like Kurz, who became a father for the first time last weekend, Blümel is in luck and has just celebrated the birth of his second child. “I have decided for my family,” he declared, without revealing yet what his fate will be in the private sector.

Both the Austrian government and the ÖVP leadership are now up in the air because, when Kurz took over the party presidency, he demanded three conditions: right of making the lists electoral, freedom for coalition decisions and the sole decision on key positions at the match. The regional barons agreed and later contributed their weight to the turquoise policy of their young president. As long as Kurz was successful and with the guarantee of their own electoral victories, they put the party in his hands. But as soon as the Prosecutor’s Office opened the judicial investigation against Kurz, a movement of disconnection was perceived.

Position of the Greens

One after another, the ÖVP governors assured that they had always been more black than turquoise, thus turning towards the essences of the party before the ascension of the head of their youths. As a result, Schallenberg he was no longer able to give life to the decision-making rights that Kurz had demanded of the provincial governors when he was enthroned, who within days had filled the power vacuum after Kurz “stepped aside.” Last week, as Schallenberg promised that there would be no lockdown for vaccinated people in Austria, several regional leaders spoke in favor, making it clear that Schallenberg’s opinion was no longer relevant.

Nehammer, who seems willing to accept responsibility and take charge, has his power base in Lower Austria, does not belong to Kurz’s narrow circle of trust. Rather, it has been Governor Johanna Mikl-Leitner who has campaigned on their behalf. Tyrol regional chief Günther Platter has described the decision as “finally understandable”. His Styrian counterpart, Hermann Schützenhöfer, has stated that Kurz had led the People’s Party to “high heights” but that the situation had “changed significantly”. Schützenhöfer respects Kurz’s decision, which, he says, “was finally inevitable.”

The next question is whether the government coalition with Los Verdes will withstand the tension of the new resignations or if the opposition will seize the moment to launch a new attack. And there is still the judicial drift of the latest accusations, which Kurz continues to flatly reject but whose investigation is still ongoing. Both Kurz and Blümel are being investigated as suspects of having used state money to buy institutional advertising spaces in the media that, in exchange, lent themselves to publishing polls favorable to the young conservative politician, on which his rise to power had supposedly been promoted. . Kurz’s armor has already been removed.

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