Ousted chancellor Kurz wins Austrian election

Sebastian Kurz, leader of the Austrian People's Party, is poised to regain his former position as Austria's chancellor after his party secured 37 percent of Sunday's parliamentary election vote, well about second-place Social Democrats who garnered 21 percent. Photo by Florian Wieser/EPA-EFE

Sept. 30 (UPI) — The party of Austria’s former chancellor Sebastian Kurz won a snap election Sunday, positioning the European country’s youngest-ever leader to reclaim his job after being ousted in May due to scandal involving his government’s coalition partner.

According to exit polls, Kurz’s center-right Austrian People’s Party won with 37.1 percent of the parliamentary vote, well above the Social Democratic Party, who came in second with 21.7 percent, its worst showing since the Second World War.

Kurz called the snap election in late May after a 2017 video surfaced of Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache of the Freedom Party promising a Russian woman purporting to be a niece of an oligarch access to state contracts.

Kurz, 33, was removed as chancellor following a no-confidence vote.

He became chancellor in December of 2017, and his party, which garnered 31 percent of the vote, formed a coalition government with the far-right Freedom Party.

The Freedom Party on Sunday came in third with 20 percent of the vote, a drop of about 6 percent from the 2017 election.

The Austrian People’s Party won in all states but Vienna, which was picked up by the Social Democratic Party.

“We were voted out of office in May, and it was a difficult four months, but today the people returned us to office,” Kurz told supporters in Vienna after the announcement of initial results, The New York Times reported.

As Kurz’s party failed to garner enough seats to form a majority government, it is likely that he will create another coalition.

Polling stations closed Sunday at 5 p.m. with some 6.4 million people eligible to cast their votes.


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