Austria Has New Federal Minister for Labor

PeoplePoliticians ♦ Published: January 11, 2021; 12:20 ♦ (Vindobona)

After the resignation of Susanne Aschbacher as Federal Minister for Labor, Chancellor Kurz has presented her successor. Martin Kocher, Professor of Behavioral Economics and Director of the Institute for Advanced Studies (IHS) will take over the Federal Minister position as an independent expert.

Martin Kocher is Austria's new Federal Minister for Labor. / Picture: © Bundeskanzleramt (BKA) / Andy Wenzel

Austria's Family and Labor Minister Christine Aschbacher has resigned following a plagiarism affair.

In a statement, the 37-year-old complained of prejudgement by "the media and fellow politicians."

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has already introduced her successor as labor minister, Martin Kocher.

Previously, accusations had been made that Aschbacher had copied parts of her dissertation submitted in Bratislava in 2020 without properly identifying the sources.

All these accusations "are insinuations and I reject them," Aschbacher stressed.

She had written both her dissertation and her diploma thesis, which were both suspected of plagiarism, at the University of Applied Sciences Wiener Neustadt "to the best of her knowledge and belief."

However, according to her, she was not granted a fair review process:

"The hostility, the political agitation and the insults are unfortunately being unloaded not only on me, but also on my children, and with unbearable force. I cannot allow this to continue in order to protect my family. For this reason, I am resigning from office."

This means that an expert is taking over the ministry, which will be important in the Covid-19 crisis.

"I come to the government as an independent expert," Kocher said during the presentation.

These are extraordinary times, he said, so he was ready to take on responsibility. He would get started immediately.

Kocher said the first priority was to deal with the pandemic and combat the acute crisis by the summer.

After that, he said, it's a matter of creating employment and sorting out the future of work.

He added:

"I'm looking forward to the challenge, I'm fully motivated."

According to Chancellor Kurz, Kocher will focus "exclusively" on the labor market in his ministerial duties.

The areas of family and youth will be taken over by Women's and Integration Minister Susanne Raab in the Chancellery Office.

Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen has already held an initial meeting with Kocher.

The inauguration is then planned for today, January 11.

Kocher is not a member of the Austrian People's Party and is to take over the labor portfolio as an expert.

Martin Kocher has been Professor of Behavioral Economics with Applications to Austrian Economic Policy at the Institute of Economics and the Vienna Center for Experimental Economics at the University of Vienna since 2017 and was Director of the Institute for Advanced Studies (IHS) from 2016 to 2021.