Comment 24 Oct 17

Austria’s Right Turn Will Set Balkan Liberals Back

If Austria’s conservatives put together a government with the far right, the effects will be felt from Brussels to the Balkans.

Marcus Tanner
Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, head of Austrian People's Party, speaks in a TV debate in Vienna on October 12. Photo: Ronald Zak/AP

With so much in Europe’s in-tray, including stalled Brexit negotiations and another looming crisis in Catalonia, Austria has slipped quietly out of the headlines since the October 15 surprise general election result.

As in Germany, coalition governments in Austria can take weeks or months to form, and Brussels will be hoping that the victorious centre-right People’s Party, OVP, under the youthful Sebastian Kurz will resume its old coalition with the Social Democrats, SPO, who came second.

If that happens, Commission President Jean Claude Juncker, not to mention Angela Merkel, can heave a sigh of relief.

But it might not work out that way – in which case the echoes will be felt all the way from Brussels to the Balkans.

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