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1ST LEAD Young Austrian conservative chief Kurz set to build cabinet By Albert Otti, dpa

Europe
19.10.2017
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Vienna (dpa) - Conservative election winner Sebastian Kurz will be tasked on Friday with forming Austria‘s next government.

President Alexander Van der Bellen is scheduled to meet 31-year-old Kurz to give him his orders, the Presidential Office announced Thursday.

People‘s Party (OeVP) leader Kurz, who has been serving as foreign minister, has not yet confirmed whether he will seek a coalition with the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe).

However, he has stressed that voters opted for change in Sunday‘s parliamentary election, indicating that he favours the FPOe, which saw strong gains, rather than the Social Democrats (SPOe), who were dethroned as Austria‘s strongest party.

Kurz and FPOe leader Heinz-Christian Strache also confirmed that they have met since the election.

The Wednesday meeting was "very open, sympathetic, friendly," Strache told Austrian broadcaster Oe24.TV.

Social Democrats and conservatives have formed cabinets for the past decade, but their relationship soured in recent years as both sides blocked each other‘s policy initiatives, and as the OeVP shifted to the right on migration issues.

The OeVP won the elections with 31.5 per cent of votes, a gain of 7.5 percentage points from the last election, and overtook the SPOe to become the strongest party in the lower house, the Interior Ministry confirmed Thursday night as it announced the final result.

The SPOe collected 26.9 per cent of the vote, nearly unchanged from the 2013 elections, while the far-right FPOe garnered 26 per cent, 5.5 percentage points more than in the previous poll.

The other parties which won seats in parliament were the liberal Neos, with 5.3 per cent, and the leftist Liste Pilz, with 4.4 per cent.

The environmentalist Greens suffered total defeat and lost all of their 24 seats in parliament, as months of internal squabbles drove many of their previous supporters towards the SPOe.

 

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