Brigitte Bierlein, Austria’s First Female Chancellor, Dies at 74

(Bloomberg) -- Brigitte Bierlein, who emphasized equality after becoming Austria’s first female chancellor in an interim mandate following the so-called Ibiza scandal that rocked the country’s political elite, has died. She was 74.

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Her death was announced on Monday by Chancellor Karl Nehammer in a post on X. She died after a short, severe illness, the Constitutional Court said on its website.

As president of the Constitutional Court, Bierlein was named head of an interim government in June 2019 after Sebastian Kurz was ousted as chancellor in a vote of confidence. She took over the nation’s most powerful job amid an unprecedented political crisis triggered by a video of the nationalist vice chancellor, Heinz-Christian Strache, discussing corrupt practices on the Spanish island resort of Ibiza.

Bierlein prioritized equality within Austria’s male-dominated political establishment by appointing women to half of her cabinet. When Kurz returned to power at the beginning of 2020, he followed that example in a new coalition government between his conservative People’s Party and the Greens.

“Coming generations will see her as a shining example for self-determination, equality and breaking through glass ceilings,” Nehammer said.

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