Scandal-Shaken Austria Gets Its 3rd Chancellor This Year

Austria swore in a new chancellor, Karl Nehammer, on Monday, the third person in two months to take up the position after a corruption scandal jolted the country’s politics.

Mr. Nehammer, 49, formerly the country’s interior minister, was sworn in by President Alexander Van der Bellen in a ceremony at the Hofburg palace in Vienna after he assumed the leadership of the governing Austrian People’s Party.

“I will approach my office as chancellor with great seriousness and respect,” Mr. Nehammer said after the ceremony. “Because there is an incredible amount to do.”

His rise to chancellor capped months of unusual chaos in Austrian politics, sparked by the resignation of Sebastian Kurz as the country’s leader in October amid a criminal investigation into allegations of corruption and buying influence. He stepped down weeks later as head of the conservative governing party.

Mr. Kurz’s successor, Alexander Schallenberg, a former diplomat and foreign ministry spokesman, was widely seen as a placeholder for Mr. Kurz. Mr. Schallenberg will be foreign minister in the new government, a position he had held in the Kurz administration.

But on Thursday, hours after Mr. Kurz announced he was officially leaving politics and in turn the party leadership, Mr. Schallenberg said he would also step down so the country could also be led by the chief of the Austrian People’s Party.

“It’s been quite a ride,” said Laurenz Ennser-Jedenastik, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Vienna. He described Mr. Nehammer as a party man who was well-anchored and well-connected.

As interior minister, he was known for his hard-line policies on immigration and law and order. But Mr. Nehammer has also spoken out about the danger of right-ring extremism and Covid skepticism, Mr. Ennser-Jedenastik said.

“You could say he is the traditional conservative, in a sense, on the Austrian spectrum,” he said.

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