Two Austrian ministers resign as support for government crumbles
Elisabeth Koestinger, Austria's Minister for Tourism and Agriculture, announces her resignation. Georg Hochmuth/APA/dpa
Elisabeth Koestinger, Austria's Minister for Tourism and Agriculture, announces her resignation. Georg Hochmuth/APA/dpa

Two Austrian ministers have stepped down in one day, as the coalition government under Chancellor Karl Nehammer struggles to maintain power after the retirement of ex-chancellor Sebastian Kurz last year.

Announcing her resignation in a statement on Monday, Agriculture and Tourism Minister Elisabeth Köstinger from the ruling Austrian People's Party (ÖVP) said: "It is now time for me to stay connected to politics and the country, to the People's Party, and yet to open a new chapter of my life."

The move had been planned since former chancellor Kurz stepped down last year, Köstinger said.

Hours later, Economy Minister Margarete Schramböck, who has been ridiculed for misstatements and policy choices, resigned. Schramböck is also an ÖVP member.

Köstinger is considered a close confidant of Kurz, who resigned in October after an official corruption investigation was opened against him. Nehammer become chancellor and ÖVP party chief in December.

It is unclear whether Monday's resignations will lead to further changes in the Cabinet.

The ÖVP is in a fragile governing coalition with the Greens and under pressure due to different corruption investigations and rising costs of living.

According to polls from early May, Nehammer's party only has the support of some 24% of voters, falling behind the opposition Social Democrats (SPÖ) with 28%.

The SPÖ and the far-right FPÖ on Monday called for new elections.

Kösinger's resignation showed that not even the members of the government believed in the future of the coalition between the ÖVP and the Greens, said SPÖ parliamentary group deputy leader Jörg Leichtfried.

Elisabeth Koestinger, Austria's Minister for Tourism and Agriculture, announces her resignation. Georg Hochmuth/APA/dpa