Mikl-Leitner steps down in job swap

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Mikl-Leitner steps down in job swap
Johanna Mikl-Leitner (centre). Photo: Christian Schulter

Austria's controversial interior minister is swapping jobs with a party colleague in a move which is not expected to lead to a change in the country's policies on asylum seekers.


According to reports in Austrian media, Johanna Mikl-Leitner, the interior minister whose pronouncements on the nation's treatment of the migration issue have been widely criticized, is to take a new position as deputy governor of the province of Lower Austria.

The current deputy governor, Wolfgang Sobotka, a member of the same conservative Austrian People's Party (ÖVP), will step into her position as interior minister.

Mikl-Leitner faced substantial criticism, especially from Germany, over a series of measures that aligned Austria with the more xenophobic policies of Hungary, leading to a shutdown of the so-called Balkan's route for asylum seekers from Syria, Afghanistan and many other countries.

The minister refused to comment on her reasons for the switch, although an official spokesman said "It is no secret that the interior minister's heart is pulling her towards Lower Austria."

According to a report in the Tiroler Tageszeitung, Mikl-Leitner is likely to be slated to replace the current governor of Lower Austria, Erwin Proell, who is the longest-serving governor in the country.

Proell had long been considered a candidate for election as Austria's new president, however an announcement in January surprised commentators as the ÖVP selected instead the strongly religious Andreas Khol.



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