Austria’s Sebastian Kurz wins election, projections show

(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –Austrian conservatives won most seats in snap elections on Sunday, putting their leader Sebastian Kurz on track to retake power but forcing him into tough coalition negotiations after a corruption scandal sent his far-right former allies tumbling.

Kurz’s party was expected to get 37.1 percent of the vote in parliamentary elections, a gain of 5.7 percentage points compared with 2017, according to projections released by public broadcaster ORF.

“Today, the people have voted us back in again,” Kurz told cheering supporters after the election, though he refrained from saying which party he would seek to form a new government with.

Kurz’s People’s Party was well ahead of the Social Democrats at 21.7 percent, the far-right Freedom Party on 16.7 percent, the Greens on 14 percent, and the liberal Neos 7.8 percent.

The vote follows the collapse in May of Kurz’s coalition with the far-right Freedom Party (FPO) after a video sting operation that forced Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache of the FPO to step down.

Kurz, 33, has emerged largely unscathed from the scandal, even gaining voters from the FPO whose support has slipped to roughly one-fifth of the electorate from just over one-quarter in the last vote in 2017.

About 6.4 million Austrians aged 16 and older were eligible to vote. The turnout was 75.5 percent.

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