Saturday June 22, 2024

Austria heads for right after conservatives surge to victory

Published : 16 Oct 2017, 00:42

Updated : 16 Oct 2017, 04:10

  DF-Xinhua Report
Sebastian Kurz, leader of Austria's center-right People's Party and Austrian foreign minister (C), leaves a polling booth.Photo Xinhua.

As the conservative Austrian People's Party (OVP) led by young Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz is projected to have beaten the center-left party to be the biggest party in the snap elections on Sunday, the country has shown a political trend to the right despite the coalition still pending.

Kurz has declared victory after projections showed his party would win the most seats in the 183-seat parliament with 31.7 percent of the votes in Sunday's election.

It's a big gain for the OVP compared with the 24 percent of the votes it gained in 2013 elections, when the party became the second largest party in the National Council, the lower house of the Austrian parliament.

It's also a victory for Kurz, who was born on Aug. 27 of 1986. The 31-year-old is likely to become new Austrian Chancellor and the world's youngest head of government.

Kurz said the outcome represents a "strong mandate to change the country," saying he wishes to create a "new culture," and will take on the responsibility with "great humility."

Kurz has already been in action after he set a new marketing strategy for his party, and swung the party to the right concerning the migrant and integration issues.

With regards to migrant crisis, the young politician pushed to close the migration route through the Balkans, promising a crackdown on illegal immigration and bringing the crisis to the end.

Within the country, he calls to shut down Muslim kindergartens to prevent a parallel society in Austria, asking Muslims to adapt to the local society.

Riding the wave of the right wing populism, the shift has helped the OVP, to some extend, gain more votes from the right wing supporters.

But to form a government, OVP still needs a partner to form a coalition.

The two parties in the second and third places, namely The center-left Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPO) led by the incumbent Chancellor Christian Kern and the right wing populist Freedom Party of Austria (FPO) led by Heinz-Christian Strache, are the possible partners.

Projections show that the SPO scored 26.9 percent of the votes, losing its strongest party position to the OVP but still a little bit higher than the 26 percent of the FPO.

The result for the EU skeptical FPO is much higher than the 20.5 percent of the votes in 2013 elections. Although the 26 percent is still a little bit lower than its highest level of 26.9 percent achieved in 1999, it's the best performance since then.

Therefore, the upcoming negotiations among the three parties will be crucial.

Heinz-Christian Strache, who was buoyed by the result, said the support for his party shows people want change, that must be reflected in the next government's agenda.

But he declined to make any comment on a potential coalition government.

However, in an interview on television station ATV, he expressed fears that the OVP and the SPO will once again form a coalition government.

Talking to Xinhua about the result of the election, former Austrian vice chancellor Erhard Busek said Sunday's election showed a general political movement to the right, even including the center-left or the conservative parties.

The populist Freedom Party's strong performance in the election also showed this trend.

Busek said the OVP might form a coalition government with FPO, but other options were also possible. Forming of any coalition needed a long time of negotiation, he said.