Austria has named Brigitte Bierlein as interim chancellor, the first woman to hold the position, after being chosen by the country’s president to govern until elections are held in September.
Bierlein will now be tasked with forming a cabinet after the previous government collapsed spectacularly over the so-called “Ibiza-gate” corruption scandal.
“I will seek to win Austrians’ trust,” Bierlein said alongside Van der Bellen in a televised statement Thursday, saying she would hold talks with political parties and civil society organisations in the coming days.
Bierlein, 69, has been president of the constitutional court since last year and previously held several senior positions as a judge and prosecutor.
Her appointment as the country’s interim leader follows the collapse of Sebastian Kurz’s government in the wake of a video scandal exposing corruption among Kurz’s far-right coalition colleagues.
Kurz was removed from office after losing a no-confidence vote in parliament on Monday.
The crisis began with the publication of video footage in which Freedom Party (FPO) leader Heinz-Christian Strache appeared to offer public contracts to a woman posing as a Russian investor in exchange for help in the 2017 parliamentary election campaign.
The video led Strache to resign and prompted Kurz to end his coalition with the FPO and call snap elections.
“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,” she said.
The president said he and Bierlein had agreed to pick mainly civil servants as ministers. Alexander Schallenberg, a diplomat who worked as a senior official in Kurz’s office, will be appointed foreign minister, Bierlein said.
“In the coming months we will, no doubt, not see any big, lasting legislative initiatives,” said Van der Bellen.
“It is much more about a good and orderly administration of state affairs.”