Austria′s Löger in charge until interim cabinet formed | News | DW | 28.05.2019

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Austria's Löger in charge until interim cabinet formed

Austria's finance minister Hartwig Löger has been elevated to run government business after the toppling of Sebastian Kurz. Other ministers are to stay on until an interim chancellor is picked, preceding fresh polls.

Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen on Tuesday asked ministers except Kurz to stay in office for a few more days until a caretaker cabinet is chosen, pending Austria's next parliamentary election, due in September.

The 32-year-old Kurz was brought down as chancellor on Monday in a no-confidence vote by Social Democrats and the far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ)  in the wake of the Ibiza video scandal.

Kurz remains, however, leader of his conservative People's Party (ÖVP), and, buoyed by its first-place showing within Austria in the past week's European Parliament election, has vowed a return to the chancellorship in the early September election he called.

As well as his role as finance minister, ÖVP-member Löger also became vice-chancellor in Kurz's short-lived rebuilt cabinet, replacing the FPÖ's Heinz-Christian Strache.

President Van der Bellen has said he expects to name a caretaker government shortly, preceded by talks with all parties to find suitable candidates.

His pick as provisional chancellor was likely to be an elder statesman above the daily fray, speculated the news agency Reuters.

Video prompted FPÖ Strache's departure 

Ten days ago, Kurz pulled the plug on his ÖVP's 17-month-long coalition with the far-right FPÖ, after 2017 video footage emerged showing then-FPÖ leader Strache inside an Ibiza vacation apartment offering infrastructure and media deals to a woman posing as the niece of a Russian oligarch.

Publication of the video footage prompted Strache to step down as FPÖ leader while denying that his utterances in the video amounted to crimes.

Runctions culminated in no-confidence vote

On Tuesday last week, President Van der Bellen last Tuesday dismissed all but one FPÖ cabinet ministers. Kurz responded by naming four of his allies as replacements for the interior, defense, transport and social welfare portfolios. 

The runctions culminated in Monday's vote of no-confidence against Kurz by the FPÖ and the main opposition Social Democrats (SPÖ).

On Tuesday, Van der Bellen admonished all parties, urging them to tone down their rhetoric and engage in constructive dialog.

ipj/rc (AP, dpa, Reuters)

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