November 30, 2017 / 3:16 PM / 2 years ago

Austrian finance minister says will not serve in new government

VIENNA (Reuters) - Austrian Finance Minister Hans Joerg Schelling said on Thursday he would not serve in the next coalition government being put together by the leader of his conservative party, Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz.

Schelling, 63, had for months said he hoped to retain the finance portfolio and had at one point even suggested other countries wanted him to become the next head of the Eurogroup of euro zone finance ministers.

But Kurz, who is just 31, and his party won last month’s parliamentary election on a platform of change, despite already being in government, and Schelling’s chances of remaining in his post were seen as slim.

After it became clear this week that Schelling was not in the running for the European post, the former furniture executive said he would step down from the position he has held for more than three years, though he would stay on until the next government is formed.

“I am leaving politics altogether,” Schelling said in a statement. “The reasons for my decision are many, but I would like to maintain my business-like style and therefore not comment further on my decision.”

It is unclear who will succeed Schelling, a relatively orthodox conservative who often joked that he was one of his country’s longer-serving finance ministers of recent years.

Kurz is in coalition talks with the far-right Freedom Party that he aims to wrap up before Christmas after his party won last month’s parliamentary election.

Reporting by Francois Murphy; Editing by Alison Williams

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