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Austrian Social Democrats stand aside for rightist government

Europe
23.10.2017
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Vienna (dpa) - Austria‘s formerly dominant Social Democrats announced that they will play an opposition role in the coming years, paving the way for a coalition between conservatives and the far right.

"This announcement should be seen as a clear counterweight against rightist populism in Austria," outgoing Chancellor Christian Kern said Monday, after his Social Democratic Party (SPOe) slipped from first to second place in the October 15 election.

Conservative leader Sebastian Kurz, 31, is now left with only one option for a coalition with a majority in parliament: a cooperation with the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe).

Kurz‘ centre-right People‘s Party (OeVP) won the parliamentary election on October 15, while the FPOe saw strong gains.

Both parties are aligned on several issues. They want to curb immigration by asylum seekers and by workers from eastern EU countries, and to reduce taxes for workers with lower incomes.

Despite these developments, Kurz told reporters on Monday that he would need to hold additional informal consultations before announcing with whom he will start coalition talks later this week.

"My goal is to have a stable government in place by Christmas," he said, pointing out that Austrian coalition negotiations tend to last 60 days on average.

Kurz has been serving as foreign minister in the outgoing cabinet, which consisted of the SPOe and the OeVP as a junior partner.

 

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