Snap elections set to bring far right into government

Bruno Cirelli
Mag 16, 2017

"We have decided that we are starting a movement, that we are relying on valued forces within the People's Party but at the same time bringing new people on board", Kurz told a news conference.

It comes after months of disagreements between Mr Kern's Social Democrats and the People's Party on policy reform.

The center-right People's Party is now a distant third among voters.

Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, 30, took over as leader of his conservative People's Party (OVP) on Sunday and called for a snap election that will give the FPO a good chance of entering national government, since Kurz has infuriated the Social Democrats (SPO) by shattering their coalition with the OVP.

Setting up another nail-biting vote in Europe that could see the populist far-right win power, Kurz said his party's coalition with the center-left could not continue. Soon after winning, Kurz reiterated his call for early elections.

But he told ORF television Sunday: "I assume that there will certainly be an election this fall".

On Monday, Kern said that he was aiming for an "orderly process" toward an early vote, and expressed hope that a few initiatives on the government's agenda could still be pushed through before and during the summer.

Kern has said he wants to keep the coalition in place until then. Even if he does, it appears that such a deal would simply create a placeholder cabinet that would usher in new elections.

"We have chose to start a movement", Kurz told reporters.

Forming a government in Austria usually requires at least two parties.

Kern accused the OVP and Kurz of failing to honour the commitment they made in January to a package of measures that was aimed at breathing new life into the coalition and eroding support for the FPO, but which failed to put an end to squabbling that has marred the centrist coalition.

Past year the populist, anti-immigration FPOe's Mr Norbert Hofer came close to being elected to the largely ceremonial but coveted post of Austrian president.

So far neither of Austria's main parties has openly excluded the possibility of governing alongside the FPOe. But since Hofer's loss, the Freedom Party has moderated its stance on a number of issues.

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