Alexander Schallenberg was sworn in on Monday as Chancellor of Austria, after the resignation on Saturday of Sebastian Kurz for his involvement in a corruption scandal. Together with Schallenberg, former Ambassador to France Michael Linhart has taken office as Foreign Minister, which puts an end to the crisis unleashed within the Austrian Government – coalition of the Austrian People’s Party (OVP) and The Greens – after the accusations against Kurz were made public.
Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen participated in the ceremony and praised the figure of the new Chancellor as “a convinced European, which is good” for the position. De Linhart has indicated that he is “not surprised” that he is the new foreign minister, given his diplomatic experience. In Van der Bellen’s opinion, the new government has a “great responsibility to restore confidence” and has warned that “words alone will not be enough,” the newspaper ‘Der Standaard’ has collected.
“The challenges we face cannot be delayed: the pandemic is not over“, has had an impact, before also listing challenges in terms of the labor market, education, science, Austria’s position in Europe and the world and” the greatest challenge of our time “, climate change. Following the ceremony, Schallenberg announced that he plans to work closely with Kurz, while calling the allegations against him “incorrect.” “Of course I will work closely with Sebastian Kurz.
For Schallenberg “it was not an option” not to accept the position of chancellor and he cries out for “responsibility and stability”
Anything else would be absurd in terms of democratic politics, “he said. At the same time, he assured that “it was not an option” not to accept the position of chancellor and it has indicated that what Austria needs is “responsibility and stability”, something that it has committed to “guarantee”. “I take my new role as Chancellor with great respect for the challenges that await me. I can assure you that I will do everything possible to serve our beautiful country,” said the new Foreign Minister through his account on the social network Twitter. Kurz has also spoken on the same social network and has specified that Schallenberg’s step upon assuming the Chancellery “guarantees stability in the country.”
“That was my goal in this difficult situation.”, he has affirmed, before assuring that he will support the new Austrian Government. Likewise, he has indicated that “he is not a shadow chancellor.” Schallenberg and the leader of the Greens party, Werner Kogler, sealed this Sunday in a meeting the continuity of the bipartite coalition government. With his inauguration, Schallenberg has annulled the risk of a vote of no confidence, which was already scheduled to vote for Tuesday.
The opposition already charges against the new chancellor
The opposition parties have censored Schallenberg’s words. Freedom Party general secretary Michael Schnedlitz noted that “anyone who thought that when Schallenberg took office there would also be a change of leadership within the OVP has been disappointed after just a few minutes.” “The new chancellor turns out to be a servant of his master“He has settled.” This does not sound like a new beginning to me, “lamented the leader of NEOS – New Austria and Liberal Forum, Beate Meinl-Reisinger, who has rejected that Schallenberg” apparently intends to pretend that nothing has happened ” .
The investigation against Kurz is related to polls allegedly commissioned by the Austrian Ministry of Finance in which Kurz and the Austrian People’s Party were favored and which appeared in a media group in the country. Investigators believe that the Finance portfolio diverted money for the polls that, in the prosecutor’s opinion, were “exclusively motivated for the political advancement of the party.” Its publication in the media group was accompanied by an advertising cooperation of more than 1.1 million euros. The media group rejects the accusations.
Kurz is accused of inciting the payment of bribes, while several people in his closest circle are accused of paying bribes, notably his media strategists Johannes Frischmann and Gerald Fleischmann. As a result of the scandal, Los Verdes, a minority partner of the Kurz Government, they asked for his resignation, which finally materialized on Saturday, although Kurz will continue as president of the OVP and spokesman for his parliamentary group, which is why the Austrian media consider that he will remain as “shadow chancellor.”
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