Austria: Election Exit Polls Suggest Crushing Victory for Sebastian Kurz

Sebastian Kurz, leader of Austria's People's party (OeVP) leaves after voting during snap elections in Vienna, Austria, on September 29, 2019. - Austria holds snap elections after a corruption scandal caused the dramatic collapse of the previous right-wing coalition government. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP) (Photo credit should read …
JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images

Exit polls released following the Austrian national snap election pont to a decisive victory for Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) leader Sebastian Kurz and huge losses for the populist Freedom Party.

Several exit polls show the centre-right ÖVP with as much as 37.2 per cent of the vote, an increase from the party’s 31.5 per cent at the last national election in 2017.

The populist Freedom Party saw the largest loss, according to the polls, netting just 16 per cent of the vote compared to their 26 per cent in 2017, and well behind the Social Democrats who won 22 per cent of the vote.

The loss is likely due to the effects of the Ibiza scandal that rocked the party in May and forced its former leader Heinz-Christian Strache to resign as Vice-Chancellor and as leader of the party shortly before the European Parliament elections.

The scandal set in motion the events which ultimately led to the collapse of the OVP-FPÖ coalition government. Kurz forced FPÖ Interior Minister Herbert Kickl to resign, leading to all FPÖ ministers resigning in protest and triggering a confidence vote that brought down Kurz himself.

FPÖ General-Secretary Harald Vilimsky reacted to the exit poll numbers saying that it was time for a reboot in the party, saying that while he was disappointed with the result, “we have to make a fresh start.”

While the FPÖ suffered the biggest loss, the Austrian Green Party has seen the largest gains with the exit polls showing a 14.3 percent estimated result compared to just 3.8 percent in the previous national election.

Green Party campaign manager Thimo Fiesel labelled the election “a historic evening for the Austrian Greens,” and added that it was “the biggest political comeback of the Second Republic.”

When asked about a potential coalition deal with the OVP and Mr Kurzx, Fiesel was reluctant to comment, saying that the parties had substantive policy differences.

Should the exit poll results hold, Mr Kurz will have several options to form a coalition government, including the possibility of a coalition with the Greens, something attempted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2017 with the so-called “Jamaica coalition” — although without success.

Kurz also has the option to renew the coalition deal with the FPÖ, but the populist party appears to have ruled this out.

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

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