Austria: Judge Appointed as First Female Chancellor, Govt by Technocrat Expected

President of the Constitutional Court Brigitte Bierlein looks on following a statement after she was named as interim chancellor by Austrian President on May 30, 2019, at the Chancellery in Vienna. (Photo by HANS PUNZ / APA / AFP) / Austria OUT (Photo credit should read HANS PUNZ/AFP/Getty Images)
HANS PUNZ/AFP/Getty Images

Following the collapse of the populist-conservative coalition government in Austria, Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen has appointed Vienna lawyer Brigitte Bierlein as interim Chancellor until elections are held in the Autumn.

Bierlein becomes the first woman in Austria to hold the Chancellorship after a successful career as a lawyer and judge.

In 2003, under the previous Austrian People’s Party and Freedom Party coalition, Bierlein was appointed as Vice-President of the Constitutional Court, Austrian newspaper Kronen Zeitung reports.

“The most important goal is currently to contribute to greater calm and to building trust between all [political] sides… in Austria, in Europe and in the whole world, Bierlein told media at a press conference alongside President Van der Bellen.

Van der Bellen, a leftist from Austria’s Green Party, said that he and Chancellor Bierlein would be looking to appoint technocrats to the various ministries, including diplomat Alexander Schallenberg, who is expected to take over as Foreign Minister.

“In the coming months, we will, no doubt, not see any big, lasting legislative initiatives. It is much more about a good and orderly administration of state affairs,” Van der Bellen said.

The new interim government comes after the Ibiza scandal, which involved former populist Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache promising to help a woman claiming to be the niece of a Russian oligarch to buy the Kronen Zeitung newspaper and help the Freedom Party get elected.

The woman turned out to be a fake and cameras and microphones had been set up in the villa where the meeting took place in 2017, prior to national elections.

The scandal led to Strache resigning and then the entire Freedom Party resigning from the coalition government after then-Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, of the centre-right Austrian People’s Party, fired Freedom Party interior minister Herbert Kickl.

On Monday, Kurz faced and lost a vote of no confidence and was forced to step down as Chancellor.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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