What Happened: The center-right Austria's People's Party (OVP) won the most votes in parliamentary elections Sept. 29 with 38.4 percent of the vote, EUobserver reported Sept. 30. This is the party's best result since 2002, and OVP leader Sebastian Kurz is confident he will again become chancellor. The center-left Social Democrats (SPO) scored 21.5 percent of the vote, followed by the far-right Freedom Party of Austria (FPO) with 17.3 percent, the Greens at 12.4 percent and the liberal Neos at 7.4 percent. The FPO lost 10 percent of the vote compared to the last elections, and its leader, Norbert Hofer, said his party would not participate in coalition talks. The Greens expressed openness to coalition talks provided the OVP agreed to "radical" political change.
Why It Matters: The OVP will need a partner to form a coalition, but the influence of the far-right will be significantly diminished in the new government. This is good news for the European Union, because Austria will probably have a conservative government that, while skeptical of EU integration in some areas — such as immigration and potentially the eurozone — will not be skeptical to the same degree that a better performance from the far-right would have entailed.
Context: Located in the heart of Central Europe, Austria is one of the founding members of the eurozone. A more euroskeptic Austria could have ushered in border controls in the middle of the Schengen area, a government unwilling to accept migrants from other EU member states and dimmer views on issues like eurozone integration.
- Austria: A Far-Right Party Stakes Its Claim in Parliament (Dec. 18, 2017)
- A More Euroskeptic Austria Is Ready to Rise From Centrist Ashes (Oct. 14, 2017)