#1 Austrian Vote Nudges Europe's Balance to Right as Populists Gain by algernonpj 15.10.2017 20:06

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Austrian Vote Nudges Europe's Balance to Right as Populists Gain
By Boris Groendahl

and Jonathan Tirone
October 15, 2017, 11:18 AM EDT October 15, 2017, 2:47 PM EDT

  • Freedom Party projected close to second place after election

  • Millennial conservative has mandate to form new government

  • Austrian voters paved the way for the nationalist Freedom Party to enter government, heralding a shift to the political right that’s likely to make the country a more prickly ally for its European partners.

    Projections after Sunday’s election put the populists within reach of second place behind the People’s Party of Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, 31, who claimed victory after a campaign built on outflanking the Freedom Party with a hard-line stance on migration. He now has a mandate to form a coalition, replace Social Democrat Christian Kern as chancellor and become the world’s youngest government leader.

    Read more: Austria may soon have the world’s youngest leader

    With the Freedom Party poised to return to government for the first time since 2005, congratulations poured in from European nationalists including France’s Marine Le Pen and Geert Wilders in the Netherlands, while the World Jewish Congress expressed concern. For German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the result may chip away at a key ally’s pro-European stance in the years ahead.

    "There won’t be a debate to leave the EU, but the Freedom Party is strong enough to demand significant concessions” and may lead Austria to align more often with eastern European countries that have challenged Merkel on issues including migration, said Thomas Hofer, a political consultant in Vienna. “Austria has mostly been an ally of Germany for decades, but that picture could change more often now," Hofer said.



    While European populists were kept out of power in elections this year in the Netherlands, France and Germany, the Freedom Party has been part of Austria’s government before. Last year, Freedom Party candidate Norbert Hofer almost won a run-off for the Austrian presidency, a mostly ceremonial post. Any coalition with the People’s Party would have to be “a partnership of equals,” he said Sunday.

    Austria’s two big parties, the People’s Party and the Social Democrats, have governed together for 44 of the 72 years since World War II. While Kurz and Freedom leader Heinz-Christian Strache might shake up Austria’s cozy political order, they broadly agree in pledging business-friendly policies, notably to scrap corporate taxes on retained profits. They’ll also stay in the German-led camp favoring fiscal austerity in the euro area.

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    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/...rs-nationalists

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