Wednesday

27th Jan 2021

Austria's Kurz strikes coalition deal with Greens

  • Sebastian Kurz, Europe's youngest leader, will be back in power in Vienna - but switching the far-right Freedom Party for the Greens as his coalition partner (Photo: Consilium)

Austria's former chancellor Sebastian Kurz ensured his return to power after his conservative party struck a coalition deal on Wednesday (1 January) with the Greens.

The agreement was reached three months after Kurz's party won the parliamentary election.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Kurz's govenrment was embroiled in a scandal involving his former coalition partner, far-right Freedom Party, that brought down the government in May.

The left-wing swing by Kurz towards the Greens is also a sign that climate action has taken political centre stage in Europe.

The governments in Sweden, Finland, Lithuania and Luxembourg also include the Greens, but in a more junior role.

"We succeeded in uniting the best of both worlds," Kurz said on Wednesday standing alongside Greens leader Werner Kogler.

The pair will become chancellor and vice chancellor, and the Greens will control just four of 15 ministries.

Kurz's party will control the finance, interior, defence and foreign ministries, while the Greens will take charge of a revamped ministry including environment, transport, infrastructure and energy, and also head the justice ministry and social affairs.

Kurz's Austrian People's Party (OVP) won with 37.5 percent of the vote while the Greens came in fourth with 13.9 percent in September.

"It is possible to reduce the tax burden and to ecologise the tax system," Kurz said hinting at the content of the agreement, which is to be unveiled later on Thursday (2 January).

"On climate change we have possibly agreed on more than we could have imagined beforehand," Kogler said, adding that "Austria should become a European and international leader on climate change issues".

Kurz's OVP will have to deliver on climate for the Greens for them to stick to the coalition, as many among the Greens oppose Kurz and his hardline migration policy.

Migration can be expected to cause friction among the coalition partners, as it will remain a key issue for Kurz's constituency, some of whom view the Greens with distrust.

Green template

The "experiment" - as the new coalition was dubbed by the newspaper Kurier - brings the left-wing environmentalist party into the government for the first time in Austria, and could serve as a model for a new federal coalition in Germany.

The 33-year-old chancellor first took a chance by aligning his government with the far-right in 2017, as voters across Europe increasingly opted for parties outside of the traditional mainstream.

But after the 'Ibizia-video' scandal involving the far-right leader toppled the government, Kurz opted for another party outside of the mainstream, but this time on the left.

As climate change action becomes increasingly-unavoidable politically, Kurz's choice might be seen as a template for other parties in power in forming new coalitions.

The next government in Berlin could see a similar alliance as the Greens, now polling at 21 percent, could supersede the ailing Social Democrats as German chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats' future partners.

A recent Forsa poll put the SPD at 11 percent, with Merkel's CDU at 28 percent, and the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) at 14 percent.

Elections are only due in 2021, but a collapse of the current coalition government could bring the Greens into power earlier.

Kurz wins in Austria with best result since 2002

Leader of the conservative People's Party (ÖVP) Sebastian Kurz won Sunday's snap parliamentary election in Austria with 38.4 percent of the vote, after he lost a confidence vote in May due to the 'Ibiza scandal'.

Strache scandal: how big a hit will Austrian far-right take?

This is a political crisis unprecedented in Austria since the war: the resignation of the vice-chancellor, firing of the interior minister, the mass resignation of FPO ministers, a snap election, and a no-confidence vote in the Austrian parliament on Monday.

Austria EU presidency seeks 'mandatory solidarity' on Dublin

EU interior ministers are meeting in Luxembourg this Friday to discuss migration. The Austrian EU presidency is hoping to reach a consensus on Dublin reforms and a concept of 'mandatory solidarity' after briefing 27 EU states bilaterally over the summer.

EU leaders to discuss vaccine certificates

While some member states hope vaccine certificates could revive tourism, EU officials point out that it is not clear if vaccinated people can still carry the virus and infect others.

EU pushes back against rising homophobia

The EU Commission plans a proposal to ensure recognition children-parent relations in cross border situations, and legislation to support the mutual recognition of parenthood between member states.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  2. CESIKlaus Heeger and Romain Wolff re-elected Secretary General and President of independent trade unions in Europe (CESI)
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!
  6. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice

Latest News

  1. Giuseppe Conte: scapegoat or Italy's most cunning politician?
  2. Borrell to meet Lavrov, while Navalny behind bars
  3. Too few central and eastern Europeans at top of EU
  4. Rift widens on 'returns' deadline in EU migration pact
  5. EU adds new 'dark red' zone to travel-restrictions map
  6. Migrants in Bosnia: a disaster foretold on EU doorstep
  7. Navalny protests sharpen EU sanctions talks
  8. Why Russia politics threaten European security

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us