Austria's Kurz invites far-right to enter government
28 October, 2017
Austrian conservative leader Sebastian Kurz said 24 October he will try to form a coalition government with the right-wing Freedom Party after winning this month's election. Kurz told reporters that his prospective partner, Freedom Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache, had shown "a will to bring about change in Austria together." Both Kurz's People's Party and the Freedom Party campaigned on the need for tougher immigration controls, quick deportations of asylum-seekers whose requests are denied and a crackdown on radical Islam.
Austria's president tasked Kurz on 20 October with forming a government. Kurz said that after meetings with all the other parties in parliament he decided to invite the Freedom Party to enter talks on a coalition - a decision that was widely expected.
His People's Party won the parliamentary election but is well short of a majority. The only other option available to Kurz to form a majority government is a coalition with the Social Democrats. The last alliance between the Social Democrats and the conservatives fell apart this spring and there may be reluctance to renew it, commentators say.
"The goal is clear, to form a stable government with a solid majority in parliament," the 31-year-old politician told journalists. He said he will try to form a government by Christmas.
Kurz said a "basic condition" for the new administration is "a clear pro-European direction".
"Austria can only be strong if we are not just members of the EU, but also actively help to strengthen the European Union," he said. Austria will hold the 28-nation EU's rotating presidency in the second half of next year.