Austrian coalition gov't in dispute over leadership

VIENNA, May 16 (Xinhua) -- The rift between the two parties to the Austrian government appeared to widen in a disagreement over the leadership of the center-right People's Party (OeVP) following the resignation of its former leader, the APA reported on Tuesday.

In the wake of party head and vice-chancellor Reinhold Mitterlehner's announcement last week, foreign minister Sebastian Kurz was strongly tipped to take over both his roles.

Kurz has, however, indicated that in the lead-up to the next election now set for Oct. 15, he only wishes to act as OeVP head.

He on Tuesday gave his backing for justice minister Wolfgang Brandstetter to take over as vice-chancellor in the interim, who will be sworn-in on Wednesday.

In response, numerous officials from coalition partner the Social Democrats (SPOe) voiced their disapproval, including chancellor Christian Kern (SPOe), who indicated his party would only accept Kurz as vice-chancellor.

He said the issue is "not a game of poker," and indicated his party could turn away from its coalition partner in parliament, and join forces with current opposition parties in seeing parliamentary decisions through.

In response to the positive backing from Kurz, Brandstetter, who has no party affiliation, said Tuesday he is prepared to take on the role of vice-chancellor and will do so only to work in a constructive way toward concluding present government projects.

[ Editor: meng ]


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