Austria Far Right: Freedom Party Wins Key Posts In New Government

BBC, December 17, 2017

The far-right Freedom Party has secured the key posts of foreign, interior and defence in Austria’s new coalition government for its nominees.

Governing with the conservative People’s Party, the move makes Austria the only country in Western Europe to have a far-right party in power.

Austria’s president approved the new coalition on Saturday, two months after inconclusive elections.

People’s Party leader Sebastian Kurz, 31, will be Austria’s new chancellor.

He will become the world’s youngest head of government.

Introducing the new government, and the 180-page document setting out its agenda, Mr Kurz said the two parties had agreed “on a clear pro-European outlook”.

Although it is the junior coalition partner, the anti-immigration Freedom Party has secured several key posts in the new cabinet.

Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache will be vice-chancellor. His party colleagues will run the interior, defence and health and social security ministries.

The new foreign minister will be Middle East expert and writer Karin Kneissl, who is not a Freedom Party member but was nominated by the party.

Mr Kurz’s People Party won 32% of the vote in October’s elections, securing the largest number of seats (62) in the 183-seat national council.

The Freedom Party came third, securing 26% of the vote and 51 seats.

At the request of Austria’s president, the posts of justice minister and interior minister would not be held by the same party, Mr Kurz said.

The chancellor-designate was quick to retweet congratulations from his fellow youthful conservative prime minister, Ireland’s Leo Varadkar.

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