Published On: Sun, Sep 29th, 2019

Austria Election 2019: Exit poll results as Conservative Sebastian Kurz takes victory | World | News

Austrian conservative leader Sebastian Kurz’s party has clearly won Sunday’s snap parliamentary election and has several options for a coalition partner that will give it a stable majority, a projection based on a partial vote count showed. Mr Kurz’s People’s Party came first on 37.2 percent, well ahead of the Social Democrats on 22 percent, the far-right Freedom Party on 16 percent, the Greens on 14.3 percent and the liberal Neos on 7.4percent. These figures came from a projection by pollster SORA for broadcaster ORF soon after polls closed at 5pm (4pm BST).

The projection had a 1.8 percentage point margin of error.

The Alpine nation of 8.8 million has been run by a non-partisan interim administration appointed in June, after the publication of a video showing Freedom Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache appearing to offer favours to a purported Russian investor triggered the Kurz government’s collapse.

The Freedom Party is forecast to lose 10 points compared with 2017 and get 16%, while the centre-left Social Democrats lose 4.9 points with 22 percent.

Before casting his vote, Mr Kurz referenced his party’s win in 2017 and said: “We are very confident.

“We have a clear goal, namely to come first in this election. We want to improve our result.”

The next steps for Mr Kurz involve talks to find a coalition partner in order to form a stable government.

The vote has left the People’s Party leader with several options across the political spectrum.

The election was called after the collapse in May of Mr Kurz’s coalition with the far-right Freedom Party (FPO) after a video sting scandal that forced FPO Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache to step down.

Mr Kurz, 33, has been largely unscathed by the scandal, even gaining voters from the FPO as its support has slipped to roughly a fifth of the electorate from a little more than a quarter in the last vote in 2017.

Mr Kurz had previously said he would talk to all parties if he won the election.

His two most likely choices are either to ally with the FPO again or with the Greens and liberal Neos.

A centrist coalition with the Social Democrats is possible but unlikely given their current leadership.

Surveys suggest the environment is voters’ top concern, which has lifted the Greens from less than 4% of the vote at the last election, when they crashed out of parliament.

While they might be able to give  Mr Kurz and his party a narrow majority, he is unlikely to want to be at the mercy of a small number of its left-wing lawmakers.

That means that if he does ally with the Greens he will probably seek a three-way deal including the liberal, pro-business Neos, who are on 7.4 percent.

It could take time for the Greens and Kurz to convince their supporters about working with each other.

Many Greens voters see Kurz as their enemy since he brought the far-right to power.

Many of Kurz’s core voters, such as farmers and big business, are wary of the left-wing Greens.

FPO leader Norbert Hofer said after casting his ballot: “It is hard to so say what will happen.

“What is important for us is that we have a solid base from which to strengthen both the FPO and (its) work in government.”

The widespread assumption among politicians and analysts is that the election will be followed by a long period of coalition talks.

The current provisional government of civil servants led by former judge Brigitte Bierlein could, therefore, remain in place until Christmas or later.

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