Sebastian Kurz: Austria’s answer to Macron and Trudeau?

That is the prospect going through Sebastian Kurz, nicknamed “Wunderwuzzi” (roughly translated, it means somebody who can stroll on water) and the person broadly anticipated to turn out to be Austria’s subsequent Chancellor on Sunday.

Described by one political analyst as “the dream son-in-law for center class Austrian girls,” and one other as Austria’s model of Emmanuel Macron and Justin Trudeau, Kurz’s rise has been as exceptional because it has been unbelievable.

Kurz took over as head of the center-right Austrian Individuals’s Get together (ÖVP) in Could. Within the few brief months since, he has reworked a celebration which has been in coalition authorities for the previous 30 years into his personal private motion.

He is re-branded, renaming it the “The New Individuals’s Get together” and dumping its conventional black colour scheme in favor of a shiny turquoise hue aimed toward giving it an “anti-establishment” look.

Kurz has pushed his celebration to the fitting of its already center-right stance, and taken up a agency place on the large subject dominating this election: Immigration.

For the reason that 2015 refugee disaster, Austria’s political panorama has shifted to the fitting — a transfer which analysts put down to the nation having obtained greater than 100,000 asylum seekers fleeing violence within the Center East.

Shifting stance

Kurz’s ways have led to accusations that he has copied the insurance policies of the populist, far-right Freedom Get together — a 12 months after it nearly brought about a political earthquake in Austria.

In Could 2016, the Freedom Get together’s Norbert Hofer got here inside touching distance of the presidency, dropping by simply 31,000 votes to his Inexperienced Get together rival Alexander Van der Bellen.

Hofer then disputed the end result, forcing the authorities to annul the election end result over postal voting irregularities.
Norbert Hofer, presidential candidate for the right-wing populist Austria Freedom Party came second in the 2016 election.

However regardless of Van der Bellen’s victory, the controversy had been framed by Hofer, making certain the Freedom Get together’s agenda remained heart stage.

Austrian political analyst Thomas Hofer says the celebration chief has positioned himself “neatly,” boosting his celebration’s reputation with right-wing voters.

“Kurz has managed to take over the Freedom Get together points and body them in a socially acceptable method,” he says. “He has appealed to those that may have voted for the Freedom Get together.”

Sebastian Kurzs is greeted by supporters before a television debate.

“The immigration subject has made Kurz right into a star,” Hofer added. “It has moved the entire nation to the fitting but it surely hasn’t actually modified folks’s lives.

“Most individuals on this nation are usually not affected by one other 100,000 migrants. It is extra of a psychological subject.”

Kurz has advocated lowering advantages for migrants, whereas the topic of whether or not EU residents dwelling within the nation ought to obtain the identical perks as Austrian residents has turn out to be a scorching subject.

Kurz became Austria's youngest Foreign Minister at the age of 27.

Thomas Hofer says he believes Kurz is making an attempt to convey a couple of “delicate change” inside Austria and within the nation’s relationship inside Europe.

However the political analyst rejects comparisons between Kurz and Hungary’s right-wing chief, Viktor Orban, who has been censured for his remedy of migrants by the European Union.

“Though Kurz is attempting to devise insurance policies to make Austria much less enticing to migrants, he isn’t attempting to be hostile like Orban,” Hofer says.

And whereas Kurz could convey Austria nearer to the Visegrad group — an alliance of European nations essential of EU integration and the EU’s immigration coverage — Hofer says there isn’t any urge for food for leaving the bloc.

The place now?

Kurz’s emergence on the political stage is probably going to guarantee his celebration stays in authorities, however the identification of his junior coalition associate stays in query.

A 12 months in the past, the Freedom Get together appeared to be in pole place.

Not like in Germany, the place the success of the far-right Different for Germany (AfD) celebration in latest elections brought about a seismic shock, the Freedom Get together has lengthy been a part of Austria’s political panorama.

Based by former Nazis within the 1950s, the Freedom Get together turned the primary of its sort to go into authorities in post-war Europe, forming a coalition with the Individuals’s Get together in 2000.

Heinz-Christian Strache of the right-wing Austrian Freedom Party after speaking to supporters at an election rally.

Chief Heinz-Christian Strache, who took the helm in 2005, has sought to give the celebration a facelift, although accusations of anti-Semitism and Islamaphobia proceed to linger.

“The positions between the events aren’t that totally different any extra. The FPO is attempting to body Kurz as any person who’s only a follower, not a pacesetter, on the problem of migration.”

Whereas the Freedom Get together seem well-placed to enter what can be a right-far-right coalition, Austria’s center-left Social Democrats are going through a tricky electoral battle.

Austria's Chancellor Christian Kern is expected to lose his position.

The Social Democrats seem unlikely to survive of their present function as the bulk celebration in a coalition authorities, with relations between them and the Individuals’s Get together strained by the scandal.

As an alternative, the general public are anticipated to put their religion in Kurz, a person presenting himself because the “change candidate,” regardless of having spent his whole profession in politics.

“He speaks properly and though he talks about outrageous subjects, he does it in a delicate and civilized method. He performs the insider who behaves because the outsider in a really well mannered method.”

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