Victory for Austria’s new anti-EU leader and surge in support for anti-immigrant party sends shockwaves through Europe as Merkel warns of ‘big challenge’ ahead

Monday, October 16, 2017
By Paul Martin

Conservative Sebastian Kurz, 31, is set to take power and form far-right alliance
His People’s Party is forecast to reap more than 30 percent of the election vote
In a move that will alarm Brussels he wants to keep the EU out of national affairs

16 October 2017

Sebastian Kurz’s election victory last night has sent shockwaves through Europe as it appears he may seek a coalition with the country’s anti-immigration Freedom Party.

The Eurosceptic leader of Austria’s right-leaning People’s Party has declared victory in a national election that puts him on track to become the world’s youngest leader.

Kurz, 31, fell well short of a majority and may be looking to strike a deal with another party.

The Freedom Party (FPO) got around 26 percent of votes in Sunday’s parliamentary vote, boosted by a European migration crisis in 2015 that affected Austria and also led Kurz to campaign on an anti-migration platform.

And German chancellor Angela Merkel warned that the surge in support for the FPO posed a ‘big challenge’ for other parties.

Before arriving to talks with his EU peers Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said: ‘I don’t have a problem with Sebastian Kurz as a person. We’re not following the same line politically, that has never been the case and it never will be.’

He listed pro-European Austrian politicians as role models for Kurz and warned Vienna not to side with migration hardliners, including Hungary, whose government is also eurosceptic.

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