Vienna, Sep 30 (IANS) Austria’s conservative People’s Party, led by former Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, has won a clear victory in Sunday’s parliamentary polls, paving the way for the leader to get re-elected following his ouster due to a corruption scandal.
With 37.2 per cent of the votes and 71 seats in Parliament, Kurz on Sunday came out with an additional 5.6 per cent of the votes and nine more lawmakers than in the snap elections called two years ago, reports Efe news.
His recent administration in coalition with the ultranationalists of the Freedom Party of Austria (FPO), was brief – just 17 months plagued with assorted scandals among his partners and the rupture of the coalition along with a censure motion that brought down his government.
“In May, we were defeated and the people now once again have elected us,” the conservative 33-year-old leader proclaimed in his first remarks after the release of election results.
Kurz said he felt very impressed with the result. Although all the voter surveys had indicated he would win, the outcome, he admitted, was better than he had expected.
With 16 per cent of the votes, the right-wing populist FPO lost 21 of the 51 seats in Parliament that it had, a more precipitous plunge among voters than had been forecast.
Despite the People’s Party’s strong showing, it will not have a majority in parliament and Kurz will need coalition partners.
The 33-year-old could choose to renew his alliance with the FPO but may want to look at other options.
A three-way pact with the Greens (which received 12.4 per cent of the vote) and the liberal pro-business Neos party (7.4 per cent) is considered far more likely than a grand coalition with the Social Democrats (21.5 per cent).
The scandal first began in May when German media outlets published a video involving Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache, the then leader of the FPO, the BBC reported.
The sting video had been secretly recorded before the 2017 election at a villa in the Spanish island of Ibiza. In it, Strache is seen promising government contracts to a woman posing as the niece of a Russian oligarch.
The “Ibizagate” scandal forced Strache to step down and led Kurz to end the coalition with the FPO.
The country has been led by a caretaker government since June.