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Austrian chancellor urges coalition partner to stay in government

Austrian chancellor urges coalition partner to stay in government

Reinhold Mitterlehner, Austria's Vice Chancellor and leader of the People's Party, said on Wednesday (May 10) he would resign, paving the way for someone new to lead the conservatives into the next parliamentary election.

Mitterlehner, who will also resign as economy minister, said he did not feel he had full support from his party and also mentioned media criticism in his announcement.

The conservative People's Party is now in alliance with the central left Social Democratic Party of Austria in the country's parliament.

A new election would give the anti-immigration Freedom Party (FPO) a chance of entering national government less than a year after its candidate lost a close-fought presidential race.

FILE - In this March 27, 2017 file photo the Chairman of the Austrian Peoples party, OVP, and Vice Chancellor Reinhold Mitterlehner, speaks during a press conference in Munich, Germany. The coalition government's term runs until autumn 2018.

Mitterlehner's surprise resignation as vice chancellor and economy minister will take effect on May 15.

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"I am offering the OVP and Sebastian Kurz a reform partnership for Austria", Kern told reporters, without elaborating.

Mitterlehner said he would step down as party leader on May 14.

Mitterlehner's inability to quell indiscipline and persistent speculation about when Kurz might replace him appeared to have prompted his decision to quit.

Chancellor Christian Kern appeared to indicate that Kurz's appointment was a foregone conclusion.

Mitterlehner's resignation had been publicly speculated.

Austria is one of Europe's most affluent countries but tensions within the "grand coalition" of the country's two main parties - the Social Democrats and People's Party - have been exacerbated by Austria's recent economic under performance.


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