Austria’s New Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg Resigns After Just 2 Months

Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg announced on Thursday, just two months after taking office, that he will step down as chancellor as soon as his conservative People’s Party agrees on its next leader.

“I’m of the firm opinion that the two posts—head of government and leader of the party with the most votes in Austria—need to be quickly united in a single hand,” Schallenberg said in a statement.

Earlier on Thursday, Sebastian Kurz, Austria’s former chancellor, also confirmed that he will step back from politics after serving about 10 years in government.

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Former Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz gives a statement as he resigns from all political duties, in Vienna, Austria, on Dec. 2, 2021. (Lisi Niesner/Reuters)

Kurz said during a news briefing that he had put his job “above almost everything,” leaving little time for his family. The 35-year-old former federal leader, who was one of Europe’s youngest leaders, noted that his enthusiasm for politics had become less over time, and the recent birth of his first child had motivated him to take the final step to quit politics.

Schallenberg took office in October following Kurz’s resignation as chancellor. Kurz resigned as chancellor at the behest of his coalition partner, the Greens, after prosecutors announced that he was one of the targets of an investigation into suspected bribery and breach of trust.

During Thursday’s news conference, Kurz acknowledged that he had made mistakes during his 10-year career, while also referring to the allegations made against him.

“I am neither a saint nor a criminal,” the politician said. “Now that there are legal accusations against me, I look forward to the day when I can prove in court that they are wrong,” he added.

Austrian Interior Minister Karl Nehammer announced on Friday that he will be the acting leader of the People’s Party and will seek to become Austria’s next chancellor.

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The new designated Austrian Chancellor, interior Minister Karl Nehammer gives a statement at a press conference after a meeting of the Austrian People’s Party in Vienna, Austria, on Dec. 3, 2021. (Lisa Leutner/AP Photo)

Nehammer needs the backing of his party’s junior coalition partners, the Greens, and the approval of Austria’s president, which is considered a formality.

His position as permanent leader of the People’s Party would require formal confirmation.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.