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Austria swears in new chancellor after Kurz steps aside

Austria's new Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg addresses a press conference at the Chancellery in Vienna on October 11, 2021, after he was sworn in. (HANS PUNZ / APA / AFP)
Austria's new Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg addresses a press conference at the Chancellery in Vienna on October 11, 2021, after he was sworn in. (HANS PUNZ / APA / AFP)

Austria gets a new chancellor, two days after former leader Sebastian Kurz resigned amid corruption allegations, but the direction of government policy is not expected to change.

Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen swears in Alexander Schallenberg, the former foreign minister, as chancellor. Career diplomat Michael Linhart becomes the country’s new foreign minister.

Schallenberg, 52, tells reporters later that he would do “everything to refill the trenches” caused by the recent government crisis and also “do everything in my power to serve our beautiful country of Austria.”

He also says he would continue to work closely with the conservative Kurz. Both share a hard line on immigration.

Kurz, 35, announced Saturday that he would step aside to defuse a political crisis triggered by prosecutors’ announcement that he is one of the targets of an investigation into suspected bribery and breach of trust. Kurz’s junior coalition partners, the Greens, had demanded his replacement. Kurz denies any wrongdoing.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz arrives to give a press statement on the government crisis at the Federal Chancellery in Vienna, Austria, on October 9, 2021. (Georg Hochmuth/APA/AFP)

Kurz and his close associates are accused of trying to secure his rise to the leadership of his party and the country with the help of manipulated polls and friendly media reports financed with public money. Kurz became the leader of his Austrian People’s Party and then chancellor in 2017.

Although he is stepping down as chancellor, he is keeping his role as party leader and becoming the head of its parliamentary group, keeping him at the heart of Austrian politics while he fights the corruption allegations.

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