Kurz set for win in Aus­tria

The Citizen (KZN) - - WORLD - Graz

– Tall, tanned and only 31, Aus­tria’s ris­ing po­lit­i­cal star, Se­bas­tian Kurz, pic­tured, oozed con­fi­dence as he strode to blar­ing pop mu­sic into Graz’s main square. “Oc­to­ber 15 is our chance for change in this coun­try,” Kurz told the re­cent elec­tion rally in Aus­tria’s sec­ond city. “And dear friends, to be hon­est, it is time for change.”

Kurz looks to be on course to be­come the Euro­pean Union’s youngest head of gov­ern­ment when this wealthy but in­creas­ingly dis­grun­tled Alpine coun­try of 8.75 mil­lion peo­ple votes in a month’s time.

Since be­com­ing head of the cen­tre-right Aus­trian Peo­ple’s Party (OeVP) in May, Kurz has re-branded it – in turquoise – as his per­sonal “move­ment”. Bring­ing in can­di­dates from out­side pol­i­tics, in­clud­ing a quad­ri­plegic for­mer pole vaulter and an or­gan­iser of Vi­en­nese balls, Kurz has promised a “new style” and to jump­start the econ­omy.

Since he took charge, the OeVP has leapfrogged the two other main par­ties and now has an opinion poll lead of around nine points.

Kurz’s nick­name, the tough-to­trans­late “wun­der­wuzzi”, means some­one who can “walk on wa­ter”, po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst Thomas Hofer said.

Hofer calls him Aus­tria’s most tal­ented politi­cian since Jo­erg Haider in the 1980s and 90s,

Part of his suc­cess has been be­cause Kurz has taken a hard line on im­mi­gra­tion, at­tract­ing vot­ers away from the far-right who un­til re­cently topped the polls.

As in­te­gra­tion and for­eign min­is­ter, Kurz claims credit for clos­ing the Balkan mi­grant trail in 2016 and wants to cut so­cial se­cu­rity ben­e­fits for im­mi­grants, even those from the EU.

“We were right to close the Balkan route and I will fight for the Mediter­ranean route to be closed too,” he said in Graz, gen­er­at­ing the big­gest cheer of the evening.

One sup­porter speaks for many Aus­tri­ans when asked what her num­ber one con­cern is. “Asy­lum-seek­ers,” she says. – AFP

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