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Greek ministerial couple step down after housing subsidy scandal

Two government ministers have resigned in quick succession after public outcry over a Cabinet housing allowance. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is set to find replacements for the affluent married couple. Greece's economy and development minister has resigned hours after his wife quit as deputy labor minister in response to a housing stipend row. Dimitri Papadimitriou handed in his resignation to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Monday night "for reasons of political sensitivity," an Economy Ministry official told Reuters news agency. Papdimitriou's wife, Rania Antonopoulou, stepped down after Greek media reported she had accepted a €1,000 ($1,200) monthly housing allowance for an apartment she shared with Papdimitriou in an expensive Athens neighborhood. Read more: Greece secures billions as bailout enters final stages Antonopoulou was eligible to apply for the allowance as a cabinet member whose primary residence was outside of Athens. The couple's main home is in the US, where they had been working as scholars before joining the Greek government in 2015 and 2016. Despite the absence of any wrongdoing, the disclosure sparked national criticism. Greece is recovering from a severe financial crisis and a third of the population lives in poverty. US tax filings from 2015 showed that Antonopoulou owned $340,000 and Papadimitriou around $2.7 million worth of stocks. Read more: Greeks stuck in lousy, part-time jobs as government claims success "It was never my intention to insult the Greek people," Antonopoulou said, adding that she would return around €23,000 drawn from the housing allowance over two years. The government said it would end the housing allowance. Tsipras is also reportedly set to reshuffle his Cabinet on Thursday to fill the two vacant posts. Papadimitriou was responsible for attracting foreign investment to Greece and Antonopoulou worked on reducing unemployment. Read more: Greek firms paying employees with coupons

Two government ministers have resigned in quick succession after public outcry over a Cabinet housing allowance. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is set to find replacements for the affluent married couple. Greece’s economy and development minister has resigned hours after his wife quit as deputy labor minister in response to a housing stipend row. Dimitri Papadimitriou handed in his resignation ... Read More »

Austrian chancellor’s resignation allows party to rebuild

Austrian Werner Faymann has stepped down as chancellor and leader of the Social Democrats. As Alison Langley in Vienna reports, his resignation throws the future of the Austria's government into question. Next to Germany's Angela Merkel, Faymann was one of the longest ruling leaders in Europe. But his inability to tackle systemic problems caused his downfall. While Social Democratic leaders say his departure will help them rebuild the party, their government coalition partner, the conservative Austrian People's Party, could decide to change allegiances and side with the far-right Freedom Party and call for a new election. Should that happen, Austria could be the first western European country to elect the first far right government since World War Two. "Austria could be the beginning of the return of the right," said Alexandra Foederl-Schmid, editor-in-chief of Der Standard. "This is a very real possibility." Faymann's resignation comes two weeks after his party's candidate received an embarrassing pummeling in the first round of presidential elections. Freedom Party candidate Norbert Hofer received more than 35 percent of the vote and is the top runner to be Austria's next president. Voters expressed their anger over the government's inability to solve many of the country's problems, including rising unemployment, the refugee crisis and education reform. "When you've had the honor of being chancellor for seven and a half years, then one can only say thank you, and I say that from my deepest inner conviction," said Faymann, 56, in a hastily called press conference just before lunch. Coalition partner, the Austrian People's Party, has called an emergency meeting for Tuesday. It could vote to leave the coalition. If it does so, elections would be held in September. Vienna Mayor Michael Häupl to be interim leader Vienna's mayor, Michael Häupl, will be the party's interim leader. A successor for the chancellory has not yet been announced. Two likely successors for Faymann could be Christian Kern, the current head of Austria's Railway, and Gerhard Zeiler, a former head of Austria's public broadcaster and currently an executive at private media group RTL. 'Werner let us be' The weekend was filled with speculation over Faymann's future. At one point, Josef Muchitsch, a prominent union leader, pleaded in a letter: "Werner, let us be!" However, by Monday morning, conventional wisdom was that the chancellor would hang on at least until the party convention in November mainly because there was no obvious successor. The long-time party leader had spent Monday morning meeting with union leaders and midday with party leaders from each state before announcing his resignation. Faymann was Austria's 13th chancellor. He took office Dec. 2, 2008. When he took office, unemployment was at 4.7 percent. At a time when the jobless rate has fallen in other European nations, it has gone up in this Alpine country: In April it stood at 5.7 percent. "The strong support of the party has disappeared," Fayman said, adding that he accepts the consequence. SPÖ now must rebuild Still his resignation was a surprise to many, even Salzburg's governor Walter Steidl, who told reporters "I'm surprised; reason has won," he said, as he left the midday meeting. Most party members greeted the politician's departure, but said more needed to be done to turn around rising unemployment and help to integrate 90,000 refugees who flooded the country last year. "This is a first step, but it's not enough," Camila del Pilar Garfias, a leader of the youth wing of the Social Democrat party, told DW. Austria has been deeply divided over many issues, but perhaps the toughest issue has been how to solve the refugee crisis. Last year, when the wave of migrants turned into a rush, Faymann stood beside Merkel in welcoming those fleeing war. When the country was overwhelmed with 90,000 asylum requests, Faymann, who prided himself on a "stable" governing style, was at a loss for what to do. The party seemed ruderless; he left the policy to governing partner, the People's Party, which has erected fences, resurrected border controls and announced an upper limit on the number of asylum seekers the country will accept this year. Faymann's resignation on Monday came two days after hundreds of protesters gathered at the Brenner Pass, on the border with Italy, to demonstrate against Austria's latest checks. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker also criticized the new border controls, saying they would be a "political disaster" for Europe. Political commentator Thomas Hofer agreed that Faymann's departure paves the way for the Social Democrats and the People's Party to renegotiate a program acceptible to voters before national elections, which must be held by 2018 at the latest. However, if the Social Democrats appoint a strong, decisive leader, it could ironically play into the hands of the far right, said Foederl-Schmid. That's because a rebuilt center-left party might hurt the People's Party chances of re-election. The fate of the country now lies in the hands of the junior partner. The center-right party could choose instead to partner with the far-right Freedom Party. Coalition partner could switch allegiance Vice Chancellor Reinhold Mitterlehner from the People's Party called for an emergency party meeting to discuss the future of the coalition. In a statement released to the press, Neo Party leader, Matthias Strolz, greeted Faymann's resignation, saying he hoped it would be the end to the "power cartel" of the two parties, which have ruled Austria since the end of the Second World War. Heinz-Christian Strache, leader of the right-wing Freedom Party, said the change in leadership wasn't enough. "The new decoration in the display case doesn't change the poor assortment."

Austrian Werner Faymann has stepped down as chancellor and leader of the Social Democrats. As Alison Langley in Vienna reports, his resignation throws the future of the Austria’s government into question. Next to Germany’s Angela Merkel, Faymann was one of the longest ruling leaders in Europe. But his inability to tackle systemic problems caused his downfall. While Social Democratic leaders ... Read More »

Top Israeli official resigns following accusations of sexual assault

Israel's deputy prime minister, Silvan Shalom, has stepped down and says he's quitting politics for good. His decision comes as several women accused him of sexual molestation. Shalom said on Sunday he was stepping down from his dual position as Israel's Interior Minister and Deputy Prime Minister after several women went public with accusations that he had sexually molested them. Israel's attorney general is currently investigating the claims, which have come from at least seven different women. The left-leaning daily Haaretz reported last week that several of the politician's female staff members had accused him of behaving inappropriately and at least one had claimed that Shalom had asked her to perform oral sex on him. Shalom issued a statement on Sunday saying that he was resigning. The scandal has rocked the country, as the 57-year-old is one of Israel's most famous politicians. His wife, the journalist Judy Nir-Moses, is also well-known. "My family stands behind me, but it is no longer worth the cost," he said in his statement, according to German news agency DPA. Shalom, who's a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanayahu's Likud party, isn't the first Israeli official to be accused of sexual misconduct recently. Former Israeli President Moshe Katzav is currently serving jail time for rape.

Israel’s deputy prime minister, Silvan Shalom, has stepped down and says he’s quitting politics for good. His decision comes as several women accused him of sexual molestation. Shalom said on Sunday he was stepping down from his dual position as Israel’s Interior Minister and Deputy Prime Minister after several women went public with accusations that he had sexually molested them. ... Read More »

Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn resigns

Volkswagen Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn has stepped down as a result of revelations last week that the German carmaker had manipulated diesel car emission tests in the US. No successor has yet been named. Martin Winterkorn's resignation came after a protracted meeting of VW's presidium of major shareholders ahead of a regular supervisory board meeting on Friday. The 68-year-old executive said he was stepping down "in the interests of the company" as it grappled with the aftermath of the falsified emissions tests scandal that had rocked the German carmaker. He said in a statement that "Volkswagen needs a fresh start, also in terms of personnel," adding that he would clear the way for this fresh start with his resignation. "I'm shocked by the events of the past few days, "Winterkorn said. "Above all, I'm stunned that misconduct on such a scale was possible in the Volkswagen Group." Successor to be named on Friday? Supervisory board chief Berthold Huber told reporters in Wolfsburg that no decision had yet been reached on Winterkorn's successor, adding that more details would be announced after the board's meeting on Friday. Huber emphasized that Winterkorn had had no knowledge personally of the emission test manipulations in the US, but said he respected his move to take responsibility for the scandal. Given Winterkorn's engineering background, observers had doubted that he could be unaware of the use of so-called "defeat devices." US authorities are planning criminal investigations after discovering that VW programmed computers in its cars to detect when they were being tested and alter the running of diesel engines to conceal the true level of emissions.

Volkswagen Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn has stepped down as a result of revelations last week that the German carmaker had manipulated diesel car emission tests in the US. No successor has yet been named. Martin Winterkorn’s resignation came after a protracted meeting of VW’s presidium of major shareholders ahead of a regular supervisory board meeting on Friday. The 68-year-old executive ... Read More »

Libyan prime minister Abdullah al-Thinni announces resignation

لیبیا کی بین الاقوامی سطح پر تسلیم شدہ حکومت کے وزیر اعظم عبداللہ الثانی نے ایک لائیو ٹیلی وژن پروگرام کے دوران اپنے استعفے کا اعلان کر دیا۔ ان کی طرف سے یہ حیران کُن اعلان ملک میں متحارب حکومتوں کے درمیان امن مذاکرات کے دوبارہ آغاز کے چند گھنٹے بعد سامنے آیا۔ خبر رساں ادارے اے ایف پی کے مطابق ایک براہ راست نشر ہونے والے پروگرام کے دوران عبداللہ الثانی کی طرف سے یہ اعلان حاضرین کے تُند و تیز سوالات کے بعد سامنے آیا۔

Libya’s internationally recognized prime minister Abdullah al-Thinni said in a television interview that he would resign. But the Libyan government has denied the claims. Libya’s Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni announced on a private Libyan television station that he would resign – a claim which the official government denied. “I officially resign and I will submit my resignation to the House ... Read More »

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