Update: Early results show Kurz victory:
Early projections indicate that Sebastian Kurz — the 31-year-old conservative candidate — will win the chancellorship of Austria, shifting the politics of the country to the right, the Washington Post reports. Per Austrian broadcasters, Kurz and the People’s Party have 31.6% of the vote, with the incumbent Social Democrats at 26.9% and the nationalist Freedom Party right behind with 26%.
Loud music, lots of selfies, and a stylish young man looking out at his adoring fans. No, it’s not a Justin Bieber concert. It’s Austria’s current election cycle which comes to a head today. Instead of a rock star, the center of attention is Sebastian Kurz, the 31-year-old candidate who is poised to become the next Chancellor of Austria.
Don’t let his youth and pop star persona fool you. Kurz is the leader of the center-right Austrian People’s Party. He is currently the country’s foreign minister and has a hardline stance on refugees that makes some in Europe smile while putting many liberal European leaders cringe. His perspective runs contrary to the open borders stance taken by many in EU; his stance of “integration by effort” calls for potentially admitted refugees to learn German, pay taxes, and play by the rules.
“He was raised with the idea that if you work hard, if you play by the rules, then you can achieve your goals you can realize your dream,” said Gernot Bluemel, leader of the Vienna branch of the party. “In a country where the level of taxes is being raised higher and higher, this dream is becoming more and more unrealistic.”
Austria is one of the most financially sound nations in the EU, but the party continues to push a message of change behind their young leader. While they’re not expected to achieve a majority, they should be able to form a coalition government that puts Kurz in the driver’s seat. We’ll know by the end of the day.
Until Sebastian Kurz was announced as a candidate for chancellor in June, his centre-right Austrian People’s party (ÖVP) had been trailing by some distance in polls behind its senior partner in the governing coalition, the centre-left SPÖ, and behind the far right Freedom party (FPÖ).
Austria Election: Voters Expected To Elect New Government To Be Headed By Sebastian Kurz : Parallels : NPR
“He’s like a pop star,” said Bauer, who is national desk editor at the Austrian news magazine Profil. “He’s like Justin Bieber, it takes hours (and) people want to make selfies with him. I think 20 percent of his campaign was just making photos and selfies. And this is also something that is a little bit criticized, because we don’t know much about him.”
Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen told reporters that he wants “a pro-European government” as he casted his vote this afternoon.
After casting his vote, he tweeted: “Today is the greatest celebration democracy.”