Kurz It be a Sharp right turn for Austria?

Published on by George Puttick (author)

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Topic(s): International

Sebastian Kurz  (photo: Dragan TATIC)
Sebastian Kurz

Leader of center-right Conservative People’s party (ÖVP), Sebastian Kurz, is projected to win the Austrian general election after the initial exit polls conducted by OE24 predicted his party to get around 31% per cent of the vote. 

As the results from the exit polls emerged It appears that Mr Kurz did not win by outright majority. The ÖVP could look to seek an alliance with the Far-Right Freedom Party (FPÖ), a party known for its anti-immigration stance.

Although the ÖVP has been in government in some way for 30 years, they will now lead the National council after a decade of the Social Democrats(SPÖ) in office.

It is also the first time in Austria’s history that the two major rightwing parties have managed to increase their total seat count without taking votes from each other.

These results, if correct, will come as a devastating blow to the EU, as the Austrian people have essentially rejected the notion of liberal politics lead by Merkel and Macron. Kurz has also rejected the idea of EU reform proposed by Emmanuel Macron of France.

It is also another example of a shift away from the centre within European states after only a month ago, the far-right party in Germany, Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) won nearly 13% per cent of the German vote.

Kurz during the campaign called for lower taxes, tougher measures against “Political Islam” and consistently reminded voters of his role in closing down the Balkan Route for refugees, comparisons have been made to the similarities in ideologies between the centre-right ÖVP and the far-right Freedom Party, which lead to the FPÖ accusing Kurz of stealing their polices.

The parties clashed however on the topic of Europe during the election, as Kurz repeatedly criticised Freedom Party leader, Heinz-Christian Strache, for his links to parties that want to “Destroy the EU”. Declaring that the next Austrian government, which becomes EU Council President in 2018, must be “Strongly pro-European”.

Heinz-Christian Strache, Leader of the Freedom Party

Heinz-Christian Strache, Leader of the Freedom Party

The current Foreign Minster and wunderwuzzi or “Wonderkid” according to tabloids in Austria has taken the ÖVP from being third in the polls to winning the election after becoming leader of the Conservative People’s Party 5 months ago. 

Mr Kurz has stated that he was overwhelmed with the result and was looking forward to working for Austria, pledging to introduce the country to a “new political culture” of togetherness.

Kurz has said Austria will be Strongly Pro-European

At an age of 31-years-old, this all but certain victory for Kurz in becoming chancellor, makes him the current youngest world national leader, but it is also another young and charismatic figure at the helm of yet another European government.

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