Austria's Sebastian Kurz agrees coalition deal to bring far-right into government

Elias Hubbard
December 16, 2017

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Austria's next coalition government has been confirmed on Friday, as the center-right People's Party and right-wing Freedom Party agreed to govern together for the next five-year term.

Mr Kurz and Freedom Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache announced on Friday that they had wrapped up an agreement on a new coalition, which will shift Austria to the right.

The conservative OVP won the parliamentary election on October 15 by capturing 31.6 percent of the vote, but fell short of an absolute majority in parliament. The FPO came third with 26 percent of the vote.

The two leaders gave few details of their plans as they announced their agreement in Vienna, saying they would talk at greater length after presenting their proposals to President Alexander Van der Bellen on Saturday. Kurz has taken a hard line, calling for limits on the number of refugees entering Europe and benefits cuts for European Union migrants living in Austria. Many voters felt their country was overrun, and both parties have pledged to prevent a repeat of that influx.

The People Party's Sebastian Kurz will be the new chancellor.

Kurz has sought to head off potential criticism by offering assurances that his government will be pro-European. There is unlikely to be a similar outcry this time, given the rise of anti-establishment parties across the continent.

The 31-year old Kurz, who was set to become Austria's next Chancellor and the world's youngest leader, said the new coalition government would focus on addressing the concerns of citizens, and take steps to relieve tax payers, improve security and counter illegal migration. Numerous policies he and Strache have announced, such as cutting taxes and spending, have been proposed with few details so far.

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