- Title: Austrian president formally asks Sebastian Kurz to try and form government
- Date: 7th October 2019
- Summary: VARIOUS OF MEDIA
- Embargoed: 21st October 2019 12:01
- Keywords: Austrian president Alexander van der Bellen Sebastian Kurz government OVP USA trade dispute Brexit Germany economic outlook
- Location: VIENNA, AUSTRIA
- City: VIENNA, AUSTRIA
- Country: Austria
- Topics: Government/Politics,Elections/Voting
- Reuters ID: LVA002B03L8AV
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:Austrian president formally asked Sebastian Kurz on Monday (October 7) to attempt to form a new coalition government.
Kurz and his People's party triumphed in last month's snap parliamentary election while the scandal-tainted far right took a beating and the Greens surged, leaving Kurz the option of forming a coalition with either of them.
The election followed the collapse in May of Kurz's coalition with the far-right Freedom Party (FPO) after a video sting scandal that forced FPO Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache to step down.
His two most likely coalition choices are to ally with the FPO again or with the Greens. A centrist coalition with the Social Democrats is mathematically possible but unlikely under their current leadership.
Austrian voters' top concern is the environment, surveys show, which helped lift the Greens from less than 4% of the vote in 2017, when they crashed out of parliament.
While the Greens could give Kurz a narrow majority, his party is wary of being at the mercy of a handful of its left-wing lawmakers. If he does ally with the Greens he might therefore seek a three-way deal including the liberal, pro-business Neos, who are on 7.8%.
It could take time for the Greens and Kurz to convince their supporters about working together. Many Greens voters see Kurz as their enemy since he brought the far-right to power. Many of Kurz's core voters, such as farmers and big business, are wary of the left-wing Greens.
While the FPO even issued campaign videos ahead of the election appealing to Kurz to revive their coalition they were less keen after their share of the vote collapsed by around 10 points compared with the last election in 2017.
FPO leader Norbert Hofer told the state broadcaster ORF when asked if the party would go into government with Kurz "It is at least very unlikely," adding that with far fewer votes than two years ago FPO would be seriously weakened in any coalition talks.
A tie-up with the Greens would spare Kurz the whiff of scandal that could accompany the FPO.
(Production: Matteo Witt, Suzana Sabljic)
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