Austria’s Right-Wing Parties Enjoy Strong Showing in Parliamentary Elections
People’s Party, led by Sebastian Kurz, wins about 32% of vote; Freedom Party also fares well
Austria’s right-wing parties made strong gains in parliamentary elections on Sunday, after a campaign in which the main contenders competed with tough stances on immigration.
The conservative People’s Party, led by the country’s rising political star, 31-year-old Sebastian Kurz, won 31.7% of the vote, according to the preliminary official results, which exclude postal votes. The far-right Freedom Party won 26%, close to the party’s best result ever in 1999.
The left-leaning Social Democrats, who led the outgoing Austrian government in a coalition with conservatives, were set to win only 27.1%, putting them in second place. Two other parties cleared the 4% threshold for winning seats in parliament, according to the projection, while the Greens were hovering around the threshold.
Mr. Kurz, who ran promising a crackdown on immigration and a shake-up of Austria’s cozy political establishment, is now the favorite to form the next government, possibly in coalition with the Freedom Party. Mr. Kurz wants to cut social benefits for refugees, to restrict access to the welfare state for workers from other European Union countries, and for the EU to send migrants rescued while crossing the Mediterranean to asylum-processing camps in North Africa.
“Today is a strong mandate for us to change this country,” Mr. Kurz told supporters on Sunday evening. He said it was too early to discuss coalitions.