Austrian election 2017: Sebastian Kurz is on track to become the new chancellor
Who will win the election in Austria?
The far-right Freedom Party of Austria (FPO) look set to play kingmaker in a new coalition government.
The centre-right Austrian People’s Party (OVP) is leading the latest poll from Research Affairs/Osterreich with 33 per cent of the vote.
But they will need the support of the FPO – currently polling in second place with 27 per cent – in order to govern.
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The Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPO), currently the larger partner in a coalition with FPO, is trailing the poll with 23 per cent.
SPO Chancellor Christian Kern has ruled out another grand coalition and is seemingly resigned to serving as leader of the opposition.
“For me this is quite clear, if we come first, then I will remain chancellor. If not, then the opposition role will fall to us,” Kern said in an interview with ORF broadcast Monday evening.
“I expect this, and then there will probably be a black-blue alliance,” he said, referring to an FPO/OVP deal.
Austrian election 2017: Christian Kern has resigned himself to being leader of the opposition
When is the Austrian election 2017?
Austria votes on Sunday, October 15 – a full year earlier than planned.
The current legislature was due to sit until 2018, a snap election was called after the coalition government descended into infighting after nine years of ruling together.
OVP leader Sebastian Kurz announced the vote on May 14, just four days after he was elected to replace former leader Reinhold Mitterlehner.
What will the Austrian election 2017 result mean?
If OVP win the election, it will represent a remarkable turnaround for the party which was polling in third place just before the election was called.
The party’s new-found success can be almost entirely attributed to Kurz – OVP poll ratings rocketed as soon as he was announced as leader.
Kurz, 31, has run a Macron-style campaign – bringing in a gender-balanced list of independent candidates endorsed by the party, featuring plenty of new, young faces.
One of his biggest campaign pledges is to “take back control of migrating” and cut the number of refugees arriving in Austria.
Austrian election 2017: Heinz-Christian Strache has been labelled a neo-Nazi
He has also called for an end to Muslim nurseries, a flagship policy of the Islamophobic FPO.
FPO is staunchly against the “Islamisation of Europe” and has called for a full ban of the burka.
If the party enters government, it plans to end benefit payments to migrants.
FPO was founded in 1956 as a successor the the League of Independents – a nationalist party representing the interests of the Nazis.
Leader Heinz-Christian Strache has been labelled a neo-Nazi by critics for his views on immigration among other things, and was once arrested for taking part in a march by a movement modelled on Hitler Youth. He was 20 years old at the time.