VIENNA (Reuters) – Austrian conservative chief Sebastian Kurz triumphed in Sunday’s parliamentary election whereas the scandal-tainted far proper took a beating and the Greens surged, leaving Kurz the choice of forming a coalition with both of them.
The election adopted the collapse in Might of Kurz’s coalition with the far-right Freedom Get together (FPO) after a video sting scandal that compelled FPO Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache to step down.
Kurz, 33, emerged largely unscathed from the scandal, even siphoning off voters from the FPO as additional allegations surfaced final week over lavish and presumably fraudulent bills Strache claimed from the social gathering. Strache denies wrongdoing.
As instructed by opinion polls for months, Kurz’s Individuals’s Get together (OVP) got here a snug first, with 37.1% of the vote, in keeping with a projection by pollster SORA for nationwide broadcaster ORF primarily based on a rely of all however postal ballots.
“It was a troublesome 4 months and now the inhabitants has voted us again in,” Kurz advised his supporters, with out indicating what his coalition desire may be.
Kurz mentioned he’ll initially maintain talks with all events in parliament and has not dominated out any choices.
His two almost certainly coalition decisions are to ally with the FPO once more or with the Greens, presumably in a three-way tie-up with the liberal Neos. A centrist coalition with the Social Democrats is mathematically doable however unlikely beneath their present management.
The SORA projection confirmed the Social Democrats coming second with 21.7%, their worst end result since World Conflict Two however nonetheless properly forward of the FPO on 16.1% and the resurgent Greens on a file 14.zero%. The projection had a margin of error of zero.7 proportion level.
“The ball is in Sebastian Kurz’s courtroom now,” the left-wing Greens’ marketing campaign supervisor Thimo Fiesel advised ORF when requested a couple of coalition with Kurz. “There’s nonetheless a majority (for Kurz’s OVP) with the FPO.”
Whereas the FPO even issued marketing campaign movies interesting to Kurz to revive their coalition, they had been far much less eager on Sunday after their share of the vote collapsed by round 10 factors in contrast with the final election in 2017.
“It’s a minimum of not possible,” FPO chief Norbert Hofer advised ORF when requested if the social gathering would go into authorities with Kurz, including that with far fewer votes than two years in the past FPO could be severely weakened in any coalition talks.
Austrian voters’ high concern is the setting, surveys present, which helped elevate the Greens from lower than four% of the vote in 2017, after they crashed out of parliament.
Whereas the Greens might give Kurz a slim majority, his social gathering is cautious of being on the mercy of a handful of its left-wing lawmakers. If he does ally with the Greens he may subsequently search a three-way deal together with the liberal, pro-business Neos, who’re on 7.eight%.
It might take time for the Greens and Kurz to persuade their supporters about working collectively. Many Greens voters see Kurz as their enemy since he introduced the far-right to energy. A lot of Kurz’s core voters, corresponding to farmers and massive enterprise, are cautious of the left-wing Greens.
“I’ve at all times had the impression that Mr Kurz continues to fancy turquoise-blue,” Greens chief Werner Kogler advised ORF, referring to an OVP-FPO tie-up. “He was praising its insurance policies up till yesterday … We’ll see in the event that they suppose once more.”
Kogler has mentioned he’s ready to carry exploratory talks however provided that Kurz reveals rapidly that he’s critical.
A tie-up with the Greens would a minimum of spare Kurz the whiff of scandal that might accompany the FPO.
Requested whom he ought to work with, Kurz supporter Jutta Hummel, 58, mentioned at his election social gathering: “Certainly not the Freedom Get together. That was an entire flop earlier than.”
One other, Paul Widmann, was much less eager on the Greens, saying: “They make politics for individuals dwelling in cities, not in rural areas the place they want a automotive.”
Many politicians and analysts count on a protracted interval of coalition talks that might depart the present provisional authorities of civil servants led by former decide Brigitte Bierlein in place till Christmas or later.
Writing by Francois Murphy; Further reporting by Michael Shields; Enhancing by David Goodman/ Gareth Jones/Susan Fenton