Pamela Rendi-Wagner, the erstwhile leader of Austria’s centre-left, has announced her full retirement from politics after party members placed her third in a three-way leadership race.
Rendi-Wagner has led the Social Democratic Party as an opposition party since 2018, a year after the government of former Chancellor Christian Kern imploded in 2017.
On Thursday, however, Rendi-Wagner, also the party’s foreign policy spokesperson, announced her full retirement from politics via APA, including giving up her parliament seat before the end of June.
Her decision comes after she came third in an almost evenly split party members’ vote on Monday, losing to migration hardliner Hans Peter Doksozil and far-left candidate Andreas Babler in a mangled and drawn-out party leadership contest.
While the end result was “extremely tight”, it must be respected, the now former party chief said.
The leadership race will continue on 3 June, as the party’s 609 delegates get to decide on the party’s future leader in a secret vote, with delegates from trade unions, intra-party organisations and federal states having to gather behind the party’s future leader in an absolute majority.
Going forward, the Austrian social democrats appear deeply divided – prompting observers to question the party’s ability to come in first or second in the upcoming elections despite initially promising polling figures.
(Nikolaus J. Kurmayer | EURACTIV.de)