‘Whizz-kid’ seen mov­ing Aus­tria right in elec­tion

The Nation - - WORLD -

AUS­TRIA is set to move to the right in elec­tions on Sun­day with con­ser­va­tive Se­bas­tian Kurz ex­pected to be­come Europe’s youngest head of gov­ern­ment and form a coali­tion with the anti-im­mi­gra­tion Free­dom Party.

The cen­tre-right Peo­ple’s Party (OeVP), re­branded by Kurz, 31, as his per­sonal turquoise “move­ment”, is fore­cast to come first with over 30 per cent, polls sug­gest.

But in a fresh tri­umph for Europe’s pop­ulists just after Al­ter­na­tive for Ger­many (AfD) be­came the third-big­gest party in par­lia­ment there, the Free­dom Party (FPOe) looks set to be sec­ond or third with at least 25 per cent, dou­ble the AfD’s score.

Aus­tria has had al­most 150,000 asy­lum claims since 2015, mak­ing the wealthy Alpine coun­try of 8.75 mil­lion one of Europe’s high­est re­cip­i­ents per capita.

Like the AfD, France’s Na­tional Front and Geert Wilders in the Nether­lands, the FPOe, which al­most won the pres­i­dency in De­cem­ber, has stoked con­cerns about the in­flux, while also mov­ing left on so­cial is­sues.

“No, Is­lam is not part of Aus­tria,” party head Heinz-Chris­tian Stra­che, 48, re­cently told a rally.

Im­mi­gra­tion must stop “un­til fur­ther no­tice”, its pro­gramme says, and asy­lum is tem­po­rary.

“Stra­che is the coun­ter­weight to (Ger­man Chan­cel­lor) An­gela Merkel whose ‘wel­come cul­ture’ is de­stroy­ing Europe,” one FPOe sup­porter said, not wish­ing to give his name. “Aus­tri­ans should come first.”

“Wun­der­wuzzi” (“whizz-kid”) Kurz took over the OeVP in May and ended its ac­ri­mo­nious “grand coali­tion” with the So­cial Democrats.

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