Austrian president names Brigitte Bierlein interim chancellor

President Van der Bellen has named Brigitte Bierlein interim chancellor to take over for the outgoing Sebastian Kurz. The first woman to hold the office, Bierlein will serve as chancellor until elections in September.

Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen nominated Brigitte Bierlein to become the country’s next chancellor. Bierlein, a constitutional judge, will become the first woman to lead the country.

“She is the sitting president of the Austrian Constitutional Court and will be named chancellor of the Austrian Republic by me within days,” Van der Bellen said.

Bierlein will be tasked with assembling a parliamentary-backed Cabinet and overseeing a caretaker government until new elections are held in September. Austria has been gripped by political turmoil in the wake of a scandalous video that set off a chain reaction that first drove the far-right Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) from the governing coalition and later brought down the entire government.

‘I will seek to earn your trust’

Speaking alongside Van der Bellen, Bierlein said she “decided to take on this earnest task for the good of Austria,” calling it her political responsibility to do so.

Bierlein also thanked the president for his confidence in her abilities, saying, “I will do everything within my power to earn the trust that you have put in me.”

She noted that her new government’s most important task would be to calm the current political situation and build mutual trust between parties.

Government implosion

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz was forced to step down on Monday after losing a no-confidence vote.

Kurz’s downfall was set in motion by a video, made public by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and the magazine Der Spiegel, showing Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache of the FPÖ — Kurz’s coalition partner — offering political favors to a woman posing as a Russian oligarch’s niece in exchange for political support and positive media coverage.

As a result, Kurz eventually cut ties with the FPÖ and then became the subject of Monday’s no-confidence vote. Opposition parties as well as the FPÖ came out in force against the chancellor forcing him to step down.


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