ÖVP – Nehammer becomes party leader and Federal Chancellor
Karl Nehammer was unanimously designated as the new party leader and thus also as Federal Chancellor by the ÖVP federal party executive on Friday.
This was confirmed by the Styrian governor Hermann Schützenhöfer after the meeting. Nehammer himself will present details of the new government team at a press conference. Schützenhöfer also confirmed the replacement of Education Minister Heinz Faßmann by Uni-Graz Rector Martin Polaschek.
After Sebastian Kurz withdrew as party chairman and Alexander Schallenberg resigned from the chancellery, discussions on his successor began on Friday morning shortly before eight o’clock in the Political Academy of the ÖVP. According to APA information, the governors of the ÖVP agreed on the procedure on Thursday evening. At around 9 a.m., ex-Chancellor and party leader Sebastian Kurz, who had resigned from all functions, arrived by car, before that also Nehammer and State Secretary Magnus Brunner, who, according to ÖVP circles, is to become finance minister. Nehammer’s successor as Minister of the Interior will therefore be the Second President of the Lower Austrian State Parliament, Gerhard Karner.
On Thursday, Kurz first announced his departure from politics. Schallenberg later made his office available, and Gernot Blümel also announced his retirement as finance minister and Vienna ÖVP boss. In media reports, Agriculture Minister Elisabeth Köstinger and Economics Minister Margarete Schramböck were also named as replacement candidates. According to APA information, however, both, as well as Integration Minister Susanne Raab, should remain in office.
In any case, the change at the top of the party comes from a position of weakness. In the polls, the Chancellor’s party has crashed dramatically since the corruption allegations against Kurz and his closest employees became known. In September it was still stable at 34 to 35 percent and a good ten points ahead of the second-placed SPÖ. Since the affair and Kurz’s resignation as Chancellor on October 9, the ÖVP is only on par with or even just behind the SPÖ. OGM recently saw the Social Democrats with 26 percent clearly ahead of the People’s Party (23 percent). It was followed by the FPÖ with 21 and NEOS and Greens with twelve percent. With red-green-pink, a government majority without the ÖVP would be possible for the first time in a long time.