WDH / ROUNDUP: Austria’s Chancellor Schallenberg announces resignation

(In the penultimate paragraph weekday (Thursday, not Friday) and typo corrected)

VIENNA (dpa-AFX) – Austria’s Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg resigns from his position just seven weeks after he was sworn in. This was announced by the politician of the conservative ÖVP after his Chancellor predecessor Sebastian Kurz announced his retirement as ÖVP party leader on Thursday. “I am of the firm opinion that both offices – head of government and federal party chairman of the strongest party in Austria – should be quickly reunited in one hand”, Schallenberg explained his move. It was never his goal to lead the ÖVP. He is ready to step down as head of government as soon as it has been clarified who will head the Chancellor’s party in the future.

The Austrian media interior minister Karl Nehammer (49) is the next possible ÖVP boss and chancellor. Vice-Chancellor Werner Kogler from the co-ruling Greens emphasized in a statement on Thursday that he and Nehammer had a good basis for discussion and work.

Schallenberg (52) moved from the post of foreign minister to the chancellery in October after Kurz initially retired as head of government in the face of corruption investigations. Schallenberg emphasized right at the beginning of his time as chancellor that he would remain closely associated with Kurz.

The public prosecutor’s office for business and corruption suspects Kurz and some of his closest political comrades in having commissioned polls with the help of taxpayers’ money to pave the way for the chancellery. Kurz denies the allegations. On Thursday, however, he announced his resignation from all political offices – as party and parliamentary group leader and as a parliamentarian.

For the time being, nothing was known about Schallenberg’s future plans. He did not comment on reports that he could take over the external department again. / Al / DP / ngu

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