ÖVP: double withdrawal and heavy legacy

To analyse

Status: 02.12.2021 8:17 p.m.

With the withdrawal of Schallenberg and Kurz, an era in the ÖVP came to an end. The party is now looking for a crisis manager who should be more than a “shadow chancellor” – and already has someone in mind.

By Wolfgang Vichtl, ARD-Studio Vienna

The Austrian People’s Party is rearranging itself. After Sebastian Kurz left all political party offices, his companion Alexander Schallenberg announced that he was making his office available – that of Federal Chancellor. This means that the Austrian People’s Party, the ÖVP, can and must appoint a new chairman for its party and nominate a candidate for the office of head of government.

Wolfgang Vichtl
ARD studio Vienna

There will almost certainly be only one for both positions, the conservative People’s Party seems to be in agreement on this.

Schallenberg himself wrote in his resignation statement that he was “of the firm opinion that both offices – head of government and federal party chairman – should quickly be reunited in one hand”. And, adds the still incumbent ÖVP Chancellor: It was never his goal to lead the ÖVP.

“We need stable conditions”

With that he’s out. How voluntarily – that remains unclear. Because before he spoke up himself, the Upper Austrian ÖVP governor Thomas Stelzer had taken over to proclaim the ruling People’s Party opinion:

I would not like to anticipate the Federal Chancellor Schallenberg, but I assume that he is personally not striving to become party chairman of the ÖVP.

And at the request of an ORF reporter, Stelzer let it through, which is probably why a lot of phone calls and chats have already been made – within the party: “Of course, we are already in a lively exchange among the national organizations – because we are in a difficult situation, in the middle of a large coronavirus. Challenge “, he said and added:” We need stable conditions for the republic, but also stable conditions for the ÖVP – and we want to find a suitable personality who is both a People’s Party and a future in the difficult phase Federal Republic can lead. “

Chancellor, not “shadow chancellor”

Stable conditions in Austria, that’s what the ÖVP wants to stand for and that’s why the legacy of the team is briefly difficult. Not only because of the accusations of the public prosecutor’s office for corruption, not only because of the new committee of inquiry with the difficult title of “ÖVP Corruption Committee” for the People’s Party, for which parliament cleared the way on the day of the short exit.

The accusation that the company failed in the crisis management of the corona pandemic is also serious. Kurz had declared the pandemic to be over as Austrian Chancellor in the summer – at least for those who had been vaccinated.

Therefore now the desire for a crisis manager in both offices. Karl Nehammer, the interior minister, would fulfill this – now more black – dream profile. He also comes from the weighty ÖVP regional association of Lower Austria. The ÖVP board should decide on the personnel on Friday.

Interior Minister Nehammer, the new strong man? The ÖVP board will decide on Friday.

Image: dpa

And: The ÖVP wants to see Nehammer in both offices if he should be: party leader and Federal Chancellor, not as a “shadow chancellor”. Schallenberg has to live with this label: on the day of his double resignation, of all times, with Schallenberg, “shadow chancellor” was declared the Austrian word of the year.

Both of them wrote a bit of history: The youngest Chancellor of the Alpine republic was followed by the one with the shortest term of office. As soon as the ÖVP has made a decision, the latter wants to clear the desk on Ballhausplatz.

Austria: double resignation and the end of “turquoise” in the ÖVP

Wolfgang Vichtl, ARD Wien, 2.12.2021 · 19:37

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