Sep 29, 2019

Austria's youngest chancellor wins election months after far-right scandal

Sebastian Kurz. Photo: Askin Kiyagan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The center-right Austrian People's Party appears to have won the country's snap election on Sunday after claiming 37% of the vote, according to Politico Europe.

Why it matters: Sebastian Kurz, the head of the Austrian People's Party and the country's youngest-ever chancellor, is expected to win back his job after a cash-for-contracts scandal crippled his government 4 months ago.

By the numbers, per initial exit polls:

  • Austrian People's Party: 37.1%
  • Social Democrats: 21.8%.
  • Freedom Party: 16.0%.
  • Greens: 14.0%.
  • The New Austria and Liberal Forum: 7.8%.

Background: The conservative Austrian People's Party previously had a coalition government with the far-right Freedom Party, until its leader was caught on video attempting to trade public contracts for financial support from a woman purporting to be the niece of a Russian oligarch.

  • After the so-called "Ibiza scandal" broke, the Freedom Party joined the Social Democrats in a no-confidence vote that brought down Kurz as chancellor in May.
  • The Freedom Party has been widely criticized for promoting nationalist rhetoric that vilifies migrants and Muslims.
  • Support for the Freedom Party fell 10% from the last election in 2017.

The big picture: Having failed to win enough seats to govern alone, the Austrian People's Party will now have to form a coalition government. The Freedom Party has reportedly said it will not enter into another alliance with Kurz.

  • Kurz may opt for a government with the Greens and Liberals, though there are deep ideological divides between the parties, especially on immigration policy.

Go deeper: Populism smothers Europe's mainstream conservatives

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Polish parliamentary elections raise stakes for presidential vote

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Poland's Law and Justice party (PiS) prevailed this weekend in parliamentary elections marked by a record turnout of 61%, cementing the euroskeptic party's hold on power domestically and potentially impacting democratic trends across the EU.

The big picture: The PiS has presided over fast economic growth (above 5% in 2018), the delivery of generous social programs, and a more conservative course on many issues, such as LGBT rights, that are deeply polarizing. But after an often controversial 4-year term, the party has now received a sign of popular approval.

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Law and Justice, Poland's ruling nationalist party, easily wins elections

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Poland's ruling Law and Justice party is set to extend its parliamentary majority after coming in first with 43.6% of the vote in Sunday's elections, according to an exit poll reported by AP.

Why it matters: The right-wing, populist Polish government has clashed with the European Union over issues related to the rule of law, with the EU passing a motion in 2017 censuring Poland for cracking down on judicial independence. While Law and Justice has maintained popularity thanks in part to a generous social welfare system and strong economic growth, the party's social conservatism and targeting of LGBT people have contributed to an increasingly polarized society.

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Everything you need to know about Brexit

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

On June 23, 2016, the United Kingdom shocked the world and voted to “Brexit,” or leave the European Union. After more than three years of uncertainty and fractured politics, the U.K. officially exited the EU on Jan. 31, 2020.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Oct 29, 2019 - World