Elections in Austria this Sunday with Kurz as a favorite and the question of whether he will continue to rely on the extreme right

The young conservative leader will have to decide whether to repeat with the FPO after the 'Ibizagate' or opt for the Greens and liberals of NEOS


More than 6.4 million citizens are called on Sunday to the polls in a parliamentary election in which the party of the current chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, starts as a favorite with the question of whether he will re-ally with the ultra-rightist FPO to rule or He will opt for an alliance with the Greens and with the NEOS liberals.

The latest polls put the formation led by Kurz, the Popular Party (OVP), with a 34 percent vote intention, compared to the 31.5 percent achieved in the 2017 legislative elections, and point to a clear setback from the far-right Freedom Party (FPO).

Elections in Austria this Sunday with Kurz as a favorite and the question of whether he will continue to rely on the extreme right
Elections in Austria this Sunday with Kurz as a favorite and the question of whether he will continue to rely on the extreme right

The FPO has been in the Government formed by Kurz after the 2017 elections but the coalition fell apart when the ultra-right-wing vice chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache had to resign after the broadcast of a video in which, during a dinner in Ibiza, he was engaged to rig public contracts with a woman who was posing as the niece of a Russian oligarch, a scandal known in Austria as the 'Ibizagate'.

Since that scandal, the electoral perspectives of the FPO have worsened and the latest polls place the ultra-rightists with a 20 percent intention to vote, compared to the 26 percent they achieved in the previous elections. In addition, this Thursday the Attorney General's Office has announced that it is investigating Strache for an alleged fraud that he would have committed with a former bodyguard and his former Cabinet chief.

In this context, given the fall of popular support from the extreme right and at a time when the Environment has overcome immigration as the main issue of concern for voters, Kurz could choose to change his ally to form a government and opt for a three-way pact with the Greens and the liberals of the NEOS party, an option known as the green-black alliance for the colors that represent these last two formations.

“Every vote for the FPO prevents black and white,” Austrian ultra-right-wing party leader Norbert Hofer recently said at a campaign rally in Vienna. “Islam is a system of subjugation and intolerance,” Hofer said, referring to the Muslim population, which accounts for about eight percent of the total in a country with nine million people.

Since winning the 2017 elections, Kurz has been approaching his political vision on immigration to the positions defended by the FPO, which has allowed him to gain support and subtract them from the extreme right, especially touched by Strache's behavior.

The latest polls point to a clear upward trend of the Los Verdes party, with a 13 percent vote intention, compared to the 4 percent obtained in the previous elections, which could open the door to a coalition with the Kurz OVP and the liberals of NEOS, that in the last elections added ten deputies and the polls place with an eight percent of intention of vote.

The appointment with the polls this Sunday will serve to elect the 183 deputies of the National Council, the Lower Chamber of the Austrian Parliament and, if Kurz's victory is confirmed, could lead to a new government headed by this young conservative politician at which are nicknamed Wunderwuzzi (child prodigy).

Born in 1986, Kurz became the youngest foreign minister in Austrian political history and, shortly thereafter, achieved the same milestone by rising to the post of prime minister by allying with the ultra-rightist FPO.

Far from the time when he shared a place in the Council of Ministers with the SPO social democrats, Kurz has not clarified with whom he wants to agree to form the next executive and has not ruled out any option.

“We as a Popular Party have traditionally never ruled out a democratically elected party. Nor are we going to do it this time. If I am elected, I will hold talks with all parties,” Kurz said in the election candidate debate held Thursday.

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