Austrian Interior Minister Karl Nehammer – Photo: REUTERS
“Today, I would like to announce that I have been unanimously appointed by the OVP leadership as the head of the party and as a candidate for prime minister,” Nehammer told reporters.
According to Reuters news agency, Mr. Nehammer also announced the selection of Magnus Brunner – an OVP party member – as the new Austrian finance minister.
Mr. Brunner is currently the Secretary of State for the Austrian Ministry of Climate Change, Environment, Energy, Innovation and Technology.
Mr. Brunner will succeed Mr. Gernot Bluemel. Earlier, Mr. Bluemel announced that he would step down if his close ally, former Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz, stepped down from the OVP leadership role.
According to Mr. Nehammer, incumbent Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg will return to his former position of foreign minister.
Mr. Nehammer, a 49-year-old military veteran, was once an ex-prime minister of Kurz’s hard line on immigration.
On December 2, Mr. Kurz announced his resignation as party chairman and withdrew from politics just a month after resigning over suspicions of corruption.
The 35-year-old former prime minister, one of the world’s youngest leaders, thanked him for the support he received during a decade of political activism, while denying all allegations of corruption and bribery.
The criminal investigation into Mr Kurz and nine others forced him to step down as Austrian chancellor in October. After leaving the prime minister’s office, Mr. Kurz returned to his role as an MP and chairman of the People’s Party (OVP).
His announced retirement from politics, including his resignation within the party, is expected to leave a large power vacuum in the OVP.