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Austria’s far-right to enter government

The heads of Austria’s conservative and far-right parties briefed the president on their new coalition deal on Saturday, following elections that saw the Alpine country swing to the right.

Sebastian Kurz’s People’s Party (OeVP) and the Freedom Party (FPOe) struck the agreement late Friday, setting Kurz up to become chancellor and also the world’s youngest leader at 31.

The OeVP came first in the October 15 vote with 31.5 percent after Kurz, nicknamed “wunderwuzzi” (“whizz-kid”), rebranded the staid party as his own personal “movement”, promising to get tough on immigration and lower taxes. The anti-immigration FPOe came third with 26 percent of the vote, double the stunning 13 percent notched by Alternative for Germany (AfD) in elections the month before.

Kurz and Strache stoked concerns about immigration following a record influx in 2015 and fatigue with the OeVP’s previous “grand coalition” with the Social Democrats (SPOe).

This was mirrored elsewhere, with Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party now the second-largest in the Netherlands, France’s National Front in a runoff for the presidency in May and AfD entering the Bundestag and re-drawing Germany’s political map.

“Our aims are quite clear. We want to ease the tax burden for people, we want to strengthen our economy, which will bolster our social system,” Kurz said late Friday. “And first and foremost we want to increase security in our country, including by combatting illegal immigration,” Kurz told reporters in a joint news conference with Strache.

Strache, 48, is set to be deputy chancellor and press reports suggest that his party has also secured the interior and defence ministries. A seasoned diplomat, Karin Kneissl, close to the FPOe but not a member, will be foreign minister, media reports say.

Source: AFP


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