Surprise resignations: “minister earthquake” in Austria

Status: 09.05.2022 20:01

Austrian ministers Köstinger and Schramböck surprisingly announced their resignations – just days before the ÖVP party conference, where a new start is to be organised. What is happening here?

By Clemens Verenkotte, ARD Studio Vienna

“Minister earthquake”, “ÖVP in upheaval”, “political cracker”, “system in short at the end? »: the Austrian media recorded violent deviations on the domestic political seismograph. No wonder: Elisabeth Köstinger and Margarete Schramböck, two ministers of the People’s Party, pull the political trigger a few days before the ÖVP party conference next Saturday, during which a new start is to be staged – so to speak, a People’s Party colored from turquoise back to traditional black, without shorts.

The two politicians had soared with the ex-chancellor and ex-party leader and since his abrupt departure from the political scene last autumn, the future of the two ministers has been anything but good. It was only a matter of time before they left their posts, it has been said ever since.

Close confidants of ex-Chancellor Kurz

In the morning, Minister of Agriculture and Tourism Elisabeth Köstinger, considered a close confidante of Sebastian Kurz, made a personal statement in front of the cameras. It was a great honor to be able to serve the country. Much has been done. Words that are always used when resigning. However, with a rather fundamental remark, she revealed that women in politics were often judged very harshly and unfairly, which she had experienced herself: 13 years of politics must have marked her.

According to Austrian media, Köstinger will start a job in the economy. Encouragement came from his former boss: “Dear Elli Köstinger,” tweeted Sebastian Kurz, who had already moved to the private sector, “You fought every day for the values ​​and beliefs of the People’s Party.”

A few hours later, via a pre-recorded video message, Minister of Economy and Digitization Margarete Schramböck announced her resignation. The former manager said she remembers the moment “Sebastian Kurz called and asked if she wanted to take over the department. And, unsurprisingly given the political goodbyes: “I’ve never regretted that move. “

“I have never regretted this step”: Economy Minister Margarete Schramböck announces her resignation in a video.

Image: dpa

The staff table of the ÖVP is getting thinner and thinner

The staff table of the People’s Party is getting thinner and thinner. Already at the beginning of December 2021, when then Interior Minister Karl Nehammer succeeded short-term Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg, the ÖVP exchanged a few ministers. But that didn’t help much. According to a poll by the daily “Kurier”, the population is not particularly convinced of the current workforce: the majority of those questioned have a “good opinion” of Nehammer and Labor Minister Martin Kocher alone.

The other ministers of the ÖVP department are far behind in negative territory. According to this survey, 61% have a “lower opinion” of Elisabeth Köstinger, and 56% of Margarete Schramböck. The post-Kurz party is also not doing well nationally. In Sunday’s question, the Social Democrats are now ahead of the ÖVP, just behind the right-wing FPÖ.

“Game Over for Turquoise Green”

The two ministerial resignations are therefore a welcome opportunity for the SPÖ and the FPÖ to plead for a new start: “Game Over for Turquoise-Green” is the opinion of the Federal Secretary of the Social Democrats, Christian Deutsch. New elections are needed now. The federal government is a “cradle of chaos, instability, lack of planning and serious mistakes”, added MP for the SPÖ faction, Jörg Leichtfried.

Almost identically to the leader of the FPÖ, Herbert Kickl, who since the collapse of the turquoise blue coalition in the summer of 2019 in Ibiza has not missed an opportunity to attack the People’s Party head-on: these “days of chaos in government” should come to an end. Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen could pave the way for new elections. Only the green coalition partner of the ÖVP, which now sees itself as the only stable and predictable force at the cabinet table, remains calm.

Austria: two ÖVP ministers resign

Srdjan Govedarica, ARD Vienna, May 9, 2022 7:44 p.m.

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