Austrian voters gave 31-year-old conservative Sebastian Kurz a mandate to form a new government in an election on Sunday, setting up a potential coalition with the nationalist Freedom Party as junior partner, according to projections based on partial returns.The outcome may mark a triumph for European populists after they were kept out of power this year in elections in the Netherlands, France and Germany, though the Freedom Party was already part of Austria’s government as recently as 2005. Norbert Hofer, its narrowly defeated candidate in the nation’s presidential election last year, immediately staked a claim to a strong role for his party.“People demanded change,” Hofer said in an ORF television interview. Any coalition with the People’s Party should be “a partnership of equals,” he said.Kurz, the Austrian foreign minister who took up the Freedom Party’s hardline stance on immigration during the campaign, now has a chance to become the world’s youngest government leader. After a campaign dominated by migration and fair access to social security, his likely vice chancellor would be the Freedom Party’s Heinz-Christian Strache, 48.While Kurz and Freedom’s Strache may shake up Austria’s cozy political order, they broadly agree in pledging business-friendly policies, notably to scrap corporate taxes on retained profits. They’ll also stay in the German-led camp favoring fiscal austerity in the euro area.
Austria’s Greens have suffered huge losses in a national election, with projections showing them short of the 4 percent support needed to make it into parliament.Projections from three-quarters of the ballots cast in Sunday’s election had the environmentalist party securing 3.8 percent of the vote. It won 12.4 percent four years ago.Final results will not be available until mid-week after absentee ballots and ballots cast by voters away from their home districts are counted.
Un-Death of Populism
When Emmanuel Macron won the French election, the event was widely regarded as the death of populism. Macron was the anti-Trump savior, or so it was proclaimed.
It was none of that. Rather, it was a vote against Marine Le Pen, not a vote for Macron and his allegedly neither left nor right policies.
Like Trump, Macron has little success implementing his policies. I expect Kurz, if he aligns with the Eurosceptic Freedom Party, to do much of what they set out to do, to the consternation of the EU.
Mike "Mish" Shedlock