Nehammer to become new Austrian chancellor

Former professional soldier Karl Nehammer has been designated Austria's new chancellor.
Former professional soldier Karl Nehammer has been designated Austria's new chancellor.

The 49-year-old Karl Nehammer is to become Austria's new chancellor and head of the conservative Austrian People's Party (OVP), the party executive has decided.

According to Nehammer, this was decided unanimously by the party executive on Friday.

The former minister of the interior succeeds Alexander Schallenberg, who resigned after only two months in office.

The change in leadership was triggered by the withdrawal of former chancellor Sebastian Kurz from all party offices and politics in general.

Nehammer is a former professional soldier with the rank of lieutenant and a long-time party functionary.

Among other things, he stands for a tough stance against illegal migration and radical Islamism.

One of his main projects as interior minister was the restructuring of the domestic intelligence agency, which had come under criticism several times in recent years and also revealed shortcomings in the run-up to the terrorist attack of November 2, 2020.

According to experts, Nehammer belonged to Kurz's extended but not very close circle of confidants.

"Unlike Kurz, he also has good connections to the Social Democrats," political scientist Thomas Hofer said.

The relationship with the Greens, his party's current coalition partner, is better than his predecessor's.

Nehammer still has to be formally sworn in by President Alexander Van der Bellen.

His role as party leader still has to be confirmed during a party congress.

Kurz's withdrawal had triggered a personnel domino effect.

Finance Minister Gernot Bluemel, a close confidant of Kurz, had also announced his withdrawal from politics.

In view of this development, some opposition parties have called for new elections.

The alliance of the OVP and the Greens, which has repeatedly been overshadowed by conflicts, has been in power since the beginning of 2020.

Australian Associated Press