Austria's Conservatives and Right-Wing Populists Agree on Coalition Government

Politics | December 16, 2017, Saturday // 16:17| Views: | Comments: 0
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 Austria’s conservatives and right-wing populists on Friday agreed to form a coalition government nearly seven weeks after the October 15 election, Deutsche Welle reports. 

People's Party (ÖVP) leader Sebastian Kurz will become the next chancellor and Freedom Party (FPÖ) head Heinz-Christian Strache will become vice-chancellor.

"We are happy that we have reached this agreement. Tomorrow we will inform the president about our program and our team," Kurz told reporters alongside Strache. 

The 31-year-old Kurz led a revamped ÖVP to first place in the parliamentary election on a platform that was hard on immigration and security amid a backlash against migration. 

"We want to reduce the burden on taxpayers ... and above all we want to ensure greater security in our country, including through the fight against illegal immigration," Kurz said.

It is the first time in 11 years that the ÖVP takes over the chancellery. The party was the junior coalition partner in the outgoing government led by the Social Democrats, which suffered a setback in polls coming in second place. 

The coalition deal brings the FPÖ into government for the first time 12 years after it secured third place in the election on a hardline immigration stance. It was the junior coalition partner in 1986-87 and 2000-05. Previous coalition governments with the FPÖ have all collapsed before the five year period of governance, with the longest lasting less than three years. 

The October election shifted Austrian politics to the right, raising concerns about the FPÖ's eurosceptic and anti-Islam positions. 

Kurz, who is foreign minister in the outgoing governent, said Thursday that he had secured the FPÖ's commitment to a pro-European stance.

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Tags: Sebastian Kurz, coalition, Austria, People's Party (ÖVP)
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