Silvia Amaro, CNBC, September 26, 2019
Sebastian Kurz, leader of the conservative Austrian People’s Party, is leading opinion polls ahead of Sunday’s vote. He had been elected as Austrian Chancellor back in 2017, but his coalition government collapsed in May this year after a far-right coalition ally got embroiled in a cash-for-contracts scandal. Kurz rose to prominence in Austrian and European politics during 2015, when criticizing Germany’s “open-arm” immigration policy.
The 33-year-old made a name for trying to solve the migration crisis, Mathew Rodger, an analyst and the Economist Intelligence Unit, told CNBC over the phone. He added that Kurz’s tough stance on immigration is still enjoyed by right wing voters as well as those that would traditionally vote for his conservative party.
Opinion polls, out last Sunday, showed Kurz getting 34% of the vote, followed by the Socialist Party with 22% of support. His former coalition partner, the Freedom Party (FPO), came third in the same poll with 20% of the voting intentions.
Strache resigned in the wake of the scandal. The Freedom Party is now being led by Norbert Hofer and public support for the party has slowly grown.
As a result, Rodger expects the “reformation of the previous government” – a coalition between Sebastian Kurz’s conservative party and the Freedom Party, one of Europe’s oldest far-right movements.
In a note out on Monday, Rodger said while Kurz had given no indication as to his preferred coalition partner he will have three options: “The far-right Freedom Party; the centre-left Social Democratic Party; or a three-way coalition with the environmentalist Greens and the liberal NEOS party.”