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Austria’s conservatives to meet for talks after chancellor resigns

Austria's conservative party leaders are due to meet on Friday to discuss who will lead the party and the country after a series of high-profile resignations.

Vienna, 3 December 2021 (dpa/MIA) — Austria’s conservative party leaders are due to meet on Friday to discuss who will lead the party and the country after a series of high-profile resignations.

Sebastian Kurz, who resigned as chancellor in October amid corruption allegations but remained the leader of the Austrian People’s Party (OeVP), announced he was quitting politics altogether on Thursday.

His successor, Alexander Schallenberg, announced he would vacate his position as chancellor soon after. Schallenberg reasoned that the party chief and chancellor should be the same person, but said he did not want to take on both posts himself.

The party also needs a new finance minister after Gernot Bluemel announced his retirement.

Speculation in the Austrian media is rife that Interior Minister Karl Nehammer could be the next OeVP leader and chancellor.

The OeVP is currently in a fragile governing coalition with the Greens, whose Vice-Chancellor Werner Kogler made positive comments on Thursday about the possibility of Nehammer becoming chancellor, saying they would be able to work together.

Nehammer is well-connected in the OeVP and was openly endorsed on Thursday by the influential premier of Lower Austria, Johanna Mikl-Leitner.

Nehammer is a former professional soldier and longtime party official. Like Kurz, he has a tough stance on illegal immigration.

Kurz, a 35-year-old who became Austrian foreign minister aged just 27 and soon afterwards became the country’s youngest ever chancellor at 31, said the corruption allegations had “diminished my flame a little,” as he announced his exit from politics.

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