Austria’s Sebastian Kurz wins election, but leaves coalition option

Austria’s Sebastian Kurz wins election, but leaves coalition option

Agency News

Vienna: Austrian conservative leader Sebastian Kurz triumphed in Sunday's parliamentary election while the scandal-tainted far right took a beating.

Mr. Kurz’s conservative People’s Party took 38.4% of Sunday’s vote, according to the preliminary official results, his party’s best result in years and up more than six percentage points from its 2017 score. The nationalist Freedom Party slumped more than eight points, to 17.3%.

"It was a difficult four months and now the population has voted us back in," Kurz told his supporters. Mr. Kurz now faces what some analysts said will be long and complex coalition negotiations. If the results are confirmed, he will have a choice between forming a coalition with the left-leaning Greens or rebooting his failed alliance with the Freedom Party.

The SORA projection showed the Social Democrats coming second with 21.7%, their worst result since World War Two but still well ahead of the FPO on 16.1% and the resurgent Greens on a record 14.0%.

"The ball is in Sebastian Kurz's court now," the left-wing Greens' campaign manager Thimo Fiesel told ORF when asked about a coalition with Kurz. "There is still a majority (for Kurz's OVP) with the FPO."

While the FPO even issued campaign videos appealing to Kurz to revive their coalition, they were far less keen on Sunday after their share of the vote collapsed by around 10 points compared with the last election in 2017.

Austrian voters' top concern is the environment, surveys show, which helped lift the Greens from less than 4% of the vote in 2017, when they crashed out of parliament.

While the Greens could give Kurz a narrow majority, his party is wary of being at the mercy of a handful of its left-wing lawmakers.