Saturday 10/16/21

Austria appoints Spain-raised diplomat Schallenberg as new chancellor

He is also the son of a diplomat and grew up in India, Spain and France
11 October 2021, Austria, Vienna: Newly-appointed Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg of the People's Party (OeVP), delivers a statement at the Federal Chancellery. Photo: Hans Punz/APA/dpa
Newly-appointed Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg delivers a statement at the Federal Chancellery. Photo: Hans Punz/dpa

Alexander Schallenberg, a long-time diplomat, was sworn in as chancellor of Austria on Monday, two days after Sebastian Kurz resigned in the face of a corruption inquiry.

President Alexander Van der Bellen, who presided over the ceremony, said: "We all expect that the government will now go back to work and move things forward together."

Schallenberg moves to the chancellery after having held the post of foreign minister since 2019. He is the son of a diplomat and grew up in India, Spain and France.

Austria's political upheaval began last week, when it was announced that 35-year-old Kurz and several others were under investigation on allegations of misuse of public funds.

Kurz's decision to quit meant the governing coalition between his conservative Austrian People's Party (OeVP) and the leftist Greens will continue.

The Greens had threatened to pull out of the coalition if Kurz stayed on as chancellor.

Schallenberg and Kurz worked together for years. The new chancellor takes a restrictive a stance on migration issues just as his predecessor and has sometimes echoed Kurz' anti-EU notes.

Kurz is under investigation over accusations government money was used to pay for positive media coverage while he was serving as foreign minister in 2016.

Corruption investigation

Anti-corruption investigators searched the offices of Kurz, his OeVP party, the Finance Ministry and a media house on Wednesday.

The former chancellor denies any wrongdoing but bowed to political pressure and resigned on Saturday evening.

He asked Van der Bellen to name Schallenberg as his replacement.

Kurz, however, wants to remain OeVP leader and move to parliament as parliamentary group leader. The opposition criticized this move, saying he will remain an extremely influential political figure.

Career diplomat Michael Linhart, 63, is the new foreign minister. He most recently served as ambassador in Paris. Before that he served as general secretary in the Foreign Ministry.