Austrian Populists Officially Agree to Coalition Talks with Sebastian Kurz

Chairman of the Freedom Party (FPOe), Heinz-Christian Strache, speaks during a press conference on October 24, 2017 in Vienna. Austria's newly elected leader Sebastian Kurz said he has invited the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe) to begin coalition talks. The announcement by the incoming conservative chancellor paves the way for the …

Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) leader Heinz-Christian Strache has officially agreed to begin coalition talks with Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) leader Sebastian Kurz to form the first populist-conservative government since 2005.

Mr. Strache agreed to begin the coalition negotiations with Mr. Kurz on Tuesday though Strache made it clear that he was not interested in being in government without going through a rigorous negotiation process. He told media he wanted “honest, intense, serious and qualitatively correct and important negotiations,” and was not interested in mere “flatteries”, Kronen Zeitung reports.

The two parties said that the official negotiations would start on Wednesday morning and already Strache has said he has several members of the party in mind for ministerial positions. One name which has been floated for the foreign minister position during the campaign was former presidential candidate Norbert Hofer.

The FPÖ leadership has also expressed a desire for the Interior Ministry which is currently manned by Wolfgang Sobotka of the ÖVP. Strache himself is the most likely candidate for the position.

(L-R) The chairman of Austria’s right-wing Freedom Party (FPOe) Heinz-Christian Strache, Austrian Chancellor and leader of the Social Democrats (SPOe) Christian Kern, and Austria’s Foreign Minister and leader of Austria’s centre-right People’s Party (OeVP) Sebastian Kurz, attend a television debate about the Austrian general elections in Vienna on October 15, 2017. (Photo by ALEX HALADA/AFP/Getty)

Both the Foreign Ministry and the Interior Ministry would give the party significant influence over one of their main campaign promises to stop mass migration and to begin more thorough deportations of illegal immigrants.

Mr. Kurz, who decisively won the national election earlier this month, has promised a new working coalition government by Christmas although the FPÖ say they are more flexible on any deadline. FPÖ leader Strache said there was “no reason for a deadline”.

While Kurz has promised that the new government will be pro-European, or pro-European Union, Strache said that he agrees with Kurz but said, “it is always necessary to demand reforms,” and that the party would work to make sure a crisis like the migrant crisis of 2015 would never happen again.

The FPÖ and the ÖVP share many policy platforms including being largely in opposition to Islamisation. Earlier this year, Mr. Kurz passed a ban on the full-face Islamic veil and Mr. Strache has vowed to ban Islamism from Austria entirely.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at) 


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