Austria’s Green Party to enter into government coalition with centre-right People’s Party
Three months after winning the September 29 legislative elections former Austrian Chancellor Kurz has agreed a coalition government between the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP), which he leads, and the Greens, which scored a breakthrough in the last elections.
“We have managed to bring the best of both worlds together,” said the leader of the ÖVP at a press conference in Vienna alongside Werner Kogler, leader of the Greens, who will enter government for the first time.
Kogler, who will become vice-chancellor of the new team led by Sebastian Kurz, said the two parties had successfully “built bridges” for “the future of Austria”.
Agreeing on a coalition was no easy task between the free-marketeer Sebastian Kurz, a supporter of a hard line on immigration, and the Greens, politically anchored on the left, who were among the most virulent opponents of the 33-year-old leader when’ he had allied with the extreme right Freedom Party (FPÖ), in December 2017, for his first mandate.
But Sebastian Kurz’s government with the FPÖ shattered after 18 months when far-right leader and vice-chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache was implicated in a corruption case.
The so-called Ibizagate scandal arose from the broadcast last May of a video filmed by a hidden camera in a villa on the Spanish island of Ibiza, in which Mr Strache negotiated public contracts with a woman posing as the niece of a Russian oligarch.
Forced to scuttle the coalition, Mr Kurz called early elections which his party won with 37.5% of the vote, while the FPÖ fell by 10 points and the Greens surged to 13.9% in the polls.
Austria will now join Sweden, Finland, Lithuania and Luxembourg among the EU Member States where environmentalists participate in government, in a context where the calls for action against climate change are becoming increasingly urgent.