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Austria's governing centre-right People's Party (OVP) has announced that Interior Minister Karl Nehammer has been selected as the next party president. Becoming party president sets him up to take over from caretaker Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg, who could return to his previous post of foreign minister.

  • The shuffling of positions comes in the wake of the political scandal that resulted in the ouster of Chancellor Sebastian Kurz in October. Kurz announced yesterday that he was stepping back from political life at the age of 35.
  • Liam Hoare at Moment Magazine tweets the potential change of roles at the top of Austrian politics following Nehammer's elevation: "Gerhard Karner could follow Nehammer as interior minister. Magnus Brunner could replace Gernot Blümel as finance minister. Blümel resigned yesterday evening."
  • Blümel is viewed as a close confidante of Kurz, and stated that death threats made against his family in the wake of the scandal that dragged down Kurz forced his stepping back from politics. His likely replacement Brunner has no formal training in finance or economics, having served as State Secretary for Climate Protection, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology since January 2020.
  • The governing coalition between the OVP and the environmentalist Greens remains on very shaky ground. The huge internal disruption within the OVP and a collapse in support for the centre-right (see chart below) could spur the leftist Greens into dissolving the coaltion and seeking an early election that could engender a more left-leaning coalition.
Chart 1. Austrian Opinion Polling, % and 5-Poll Moving Average

Source: OGM, Unique Research, Peter Hajek, IFDD, Research Affairs, Market, MNI