Austria ex-chancellor quits politics and drops bid for top EU job

Austria ex-chancellor quits politics and drops bid for top EU job
Christian Kern said it was “impossible to leave the domestic political stage”. PHOTO: FRANCOIS LENOIR / POOL / AFP

Former Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern announced on Saturday he would retire from politics, thereby also ending his bid to succeed Jean-Claude Juncker as EU Commission president next year.

Kern, who stepped down as head of the opposition Social Democrat (SPOe) party last month, earlier indicated he had considered putting himself forward as a candidate to take over from Juncker.

But on Saturday, the 52-year-old told reporters he was ending his career because “domestic political games” were overshadowing key debates over European parliamentary elections in May 2019.

“As a former head of government, it’s impossible to leave the domestic political stage,” he said in Vienna.

Describing next year’s parliamentary vote as “the battle of all battles over the future of our continent”, Kern said Europeans…

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