Outgoing Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel will not serve in Austria’s new Cabinet. The announcement comes a day after a grand coalition was formed between the leftist Social Democrats and conservative People’s Party. The 61-year-old Schuessel will also step down as leader of the People’s Party. Its parliamentary chief, Wilhelm Molterer, will serve as vice-Chancellor in the new government, headed by Social Democrat leader Alfred Gusenbauer.
The former Finance Minister Karl-Heinz Grasser is also stepping down. The 38-year old is quitting politics to join the private sector. He earlier signalled he had no interest in serving under Gusenbauer. Wilhelm Molterer takes over his mantle as Finance Minister as well. But newspapers have characterised the coalition deal as a victory for the conservatives, months after they narrowly lost elections in October.
Schuessel was said to have proven his negotiation skills by securing the important finance, foreign and economy ministries for his party. He blocked some of Gusenbauer’s election pledges, such as abolishing university tuition fees and forced him to delay a tax cut for middle income earners. The new cabinet is expected to be sworn in on Thursday.