Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz of Austria is out. He has stepped down after being placed under investigation of using government money to fund positive press coverage of his government. His rule had been threatened by his coalition junior partner, the Greens, beginning talks with opposition to bring a vote of no confidence within a week.
It is uncertain where Austrian politics will go from here, with Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg proposed as a caretaker chancellor many hope that Kurz will return as he continues to lead his Peoples’ Party in the meantime and retains his seat in parliament. The Greens welcomed this choice, while the opposition Social Democrats lamented his close relationship with Kurz, claiming that the former leader will keep as a “shadow chancellor,” a position that would not only undermine trust in the government, but in any corruption investigations as well.
Schallenberg, a career diplomat, has occupied a relatively low profile on the political stage to this point, known as a skilled diplomat and staunch supporter of Kurz. Few know what to expect of his government other than a continued defense of his predecessor.
He has expressed an aim to continue partnership with the Greens in government; a relationship that neither party sees as ideal, but as a practical partnership where tensions sometimes run high. However, after talks with Vice-Chancellor Werner Kogler of the Greens, this partnership looks most likely to continue for now.