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Who is Alexander Schallenberg, Austria’s new leader?

Schallenberg served as the country's foreign minister since 2019

schallenf Austria Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg | Reuters

Austria got a new chancellor on Monday, two days after former leader Sebastian Kurz resigned amid corruption allegations, but the direction of government policy is not expected to change.

Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen swore in Alexander Schallenberg, the former foreign minister, as chancellor. Career diplomat Michael Linhart became the country's new foreign minister. 

Kurz, 35, announced Saturday that he would step aside to defuse a political crisis triggered by prosecutors' announcement that he is one of the targets of an investigation into suspected bribery and breach of trust. Kurz's junior coalition partners, the Greens, had demanded his replacement. Kurz denies any wrongdoing.

 Kurz and his close associates are accused of trying to secure his rise to the leadership of his party and the country with the help of manipulated polls and friendly media reports financed with public money. Kurz became the leader of his Austrian People's Party and then chancellor in 2017.

Schallenberg served as the country's foreign minister since 2019. Schallenberg, 52, told reporters later Monday that he would do everything to refill the trenches caused by the recent government crisis and also do everything in his power to serve their beautiful country of Austria.    

 He also said he would continue to work closely with the conservative Kurz. Both share a hard line on immigration. Son of a diplomat, Schallenberg headed the legal department of the Austrian Representation to the European Union in Brussels for five years. Schallenberg belongs to the People’s Party.  Thomas Hofer, a political analyst and consultant in Vienna told Bloomberg, “Schallenberg is a very close ally and would step down the very minute Kurz tells him.”

Born in Switzerland, Schallenberg spent his childhood in India, Spain and France, where his father, Wolfgang Schallenberg, served as ambassador. Schallenberg earned his law degree from the University of Vienna and the University of Paris II Panthéon-Assas. He then earned an LL.M in European law from the College of Europe in Belgium. Schallenberg, who started his career as a lawyer is divorced and a father of four. In 2006, Schallenberg became a press spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry and served under ministers Ursula Plassnik and Michael Spindelegger.

Schallenberg speaks German, French, English and Spanish fluently. The Schallenberg family received the title of Count in 1666. 

In an interview in September, Schallenberg said of the coalition government that included the Greens Party, "These are two very different parties that make up a coalition. This is not a marriage of love. Sometimes there is a stalemate in the framework. But cooperation actually works very well and much more waiting for the next few years. "

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