Austria’s former – and future? – chancellor Sebastian Kurz is a prime example of political flexibility. He doesn’t seem overburdened by ideology (or political principles).
Tomorrow (Sunday, Sept. 29), Austrians go to the polls and the results seem a foregone conclusion. Mr Kurz will lead his conservative Austrian People’s party to victory; polls suggest he will receive roughly 35 per cent of the vote.
But the problem begins on Monday. Mr Kurz will need to decide on a coalition partner. First time round in government, he joined with the far-right Austrian Freedom party. That fell apart in May when Freedom party leader Heinz-Christian Strache, then vice-chancellor, was filmed soliciting illicit funding from Russia. (The fondness of Europe’s far right for Russia is a striking feature of that ideological bent in the 21st century.)
This time round, Mr Kurz may choose a so-called “dirndl” coalition, which is named after the traditional, colourful dress. He may want an alliance between his People’s Party, the Greens and the liberal Neos.
But the Greens would want different policy and messaging and it’s not certain Mr Kurz would be willing to go all the way. And it’s not clear if he would rebuff the Freedom party’s overtures. Mr Kurz doesn’t get on with the Freedom party’s powerful parliamentary leader, Herbert Kickl. And questions remain about the Freedom party’s financing.
Mr Kurz’s political fluidity means it’s not clear what he will eventually choose to be. Right-right, or centre right-eco-liberal.