Kurz poised to form another Austrian govt
Former Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz and his Austrian People’s Party (OVP) received about 37 per cent of yesterday’s vote, far ahead of the Social Democrats, who secured 21.7 per cent.
The far-right Freedom Party (FPO) slumped to around 16 per cent.
A video sting in Ibiza in May forced FPO vice-chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache to step down.
The OVP-FPO government imploded after two German media outlets published secretly filmed video showing Strache appearing to offer public contracts in exchange for supposed campaign help from a fake Russian backer.
Kurz, at 33 the youngest ex-chancellor in Austrian history, emerged largely unscathed from the scandal, taking voters from the FPO as further claims arose last week of possibly fraudulent expenses from Strache. He denies any wrongdoing.
“We are voting to decide in which direction we will go — that of Orban and the populists, or if we stay oriented toward Europe… we are deciding if the corruption will go on,” said a Viennese voter Gabriel Steiner, 29.
“It was a difficult four months and now the population has voted us back in,” Kurz said.
His two most likely choices are to ally with the FPO again or the Greens, possibly with the liberal Neos, who is at 7.8 per cent.
The Social Democrats had their worst result since the Second World War and the Greens hit a record 14 per cent.
“The ball is in Sebastian Kurz’s court now,” the Greens’ campaign manager, Thimo Fiesel. “There is still a majority with the FPO [and OVP].”
Pollsters suggest voters’ main concern is the environment, which helped the Greens rise from the less than 4 per cent of the vote in the 2017 general election when they fell out of parliament.
Kurz says he will talk to all parties. He has also floated the idea of a minority government, although this could bring political uncertainty and possibly another election.
The FPO is keen to revive their coalition although the anti-migrant party’s support collapsed by around 10 points from the 2017 general election.
“From my point of view this is no mandate to continue the coalition,” said FPO chairman Harald Vilimsky.
Many Greens voters have contempt to Kurz for bringing a party with Nazi ties into government and key OVP supporters in agriculture and big business dislike the Greens.
Former Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz. Picture credit: Kremlin