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Austrian conservative chief Kurz starts exploratory coalition talks

Europe
20.10.2017
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Vienna (dpa) - Austria‘s 31-year-old conservative chief Sebastian Kurz announced on Friday that he is starting to search for a coalition partner, following a shift to the right in the parliamentary election.

Kurz‘s People‘s Party (OeVP) won Sunday‘s parliamentary vote by overtaking the Social Democrats (SPOe) as Austria‘s most popular party, while the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe) also saw strong gains.

Although the OeVP and FPOe have shared views on immigration curbs and income tax cuts, Kurz was keeping his cards close to his chest when he said he would hold exploratory talks with all parties to sound out potential partners.

"I want to form a government that has the courage and will for real change in Austria," Kurz said after President Alexander Van der Bellen officially gave him the green light to build a cabinet.

Kurz has been serving as foreign minister in a coalition with Chancellor Christian Kern‘s SPOe, but a renewal of this centrist alliance has increasingly become unlikely, given the animosity that has grown between their leaders.

On Friday, Kern all but ruled out the possibility that his Social Demcorats could seek to thwart Kurz‘s leadership ambitions by negotiating an alliance with the far right.

"The chances of that happening are close to zero," he said on the sidelines of an EU summit in Brussels, pointing to their ideological differences on migration and economic policies.

A coalition between conservatives and the far right "is the logical consequence of the election result," Kern added.

 

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