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Austria’s conservatives, led by Sebastian Kurz, have won a clear election victory months after a video sting scandal ended the coalition.
The party of former Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz won an election months after his government collapsed, a turnaround that in a rare development on Europe’s fractured political landscape saw antiestablishment populists suffer a significant decline.
Mr. Kurz’s conservative People’s Party took 38.4% of Sunday’s vote, according to the preliminary official results, his party’s best result in years and up more than six percentage points from its 2017 score. The nationalist Freedom Party slumped more than eight points, to 17.3%.
His former coalition partners, the far-right Freedom Party, have received about 16% – a sharp fall.
The snap general election was called after secret recordings published in May led to the government’s collapse.
Despite the People’s Party’s strong showing, it will not have a majority in parliament and Mr Kurz will need coalition partners.
The 33-year-old could choose to renew his alliance with the Freedom Party – the source of the scandal – but may want to look at other options.
But coalition talks are widely expected to be difficult, and may last for weeks.
Green leader Werner Kogler said on Sunday that the government would need to see “radical change” from the right-wing policies pursued by the previous coalition.
Who is Sebastian Kurz?
The son of a secretary and a teacher, he became active in the People’s Party at the age of 16.
As a law student in Vienna he was elected chairman of the party’s youth wing. He quit his studies in 2011 to become a junior interior minister, rising to foreign minister in 2013 at the age of 27.
Two years later he presented a plan to improve the integration of immigrants. However, he was also full of praise for Hungary’s populist Prime Minister Viktor Orban, and claimed credit for closing the Balkan migrant route in 2016.
Elected chairman in May 2017, he rebranded the party as the Turquoise Movement then served as chancellor from December 2017 to May 2019, when the Ibiza-gate brought down the coalition.