Austria’s Kurz Expects to Form Government With Greens Soon

Boris Groendahl
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Kurz Seals Historic Pact With Austria’s Greens for Second Term

(Bloomberg) -- Austrian conservative leader Sebastian Kurz expects to strike a deal to govern in a coalition with the environmentalist Greens by mid-January, breaking new ground in Austrian politics half a year after his alliance with nationalists ended in scandal.

Kurz, 33, and Werner Kogler, his 58-year-old counterpart at the Greens, said they will try to iron out any outstanding issues and agree on a roster of ministers over the coming days, and that the risk of failure is diminishing by the day. They remained vague on the substance of the future government’s program.

“Our voters have given us different mandates, hence we’ll seek a new political culture that is needed when groups that are so diverse form a government,” Kogler said. “We’ll try as a government to be a model for how to bridge contradictions we’ve had in this country for years.”

A pact between Kurz’s center-right, traditionalist Christian People’s Party and the Greens -- who combine left-leaning urban as well as more conservative rural constituencies -- would be the first such coalition in Austria since the environmentalists entered Austria’s political scene in the 1980s. It combines the two clear winners of national elections held on Sept. 29.

The deal is also an about-turn for Kurz, who moved his party to the right and governed with the nationalist Freedom Party for 17 months before that pact collapsed after a scandal over a sting video shot on Ibiza. Yet it also shows his talent in capturing changes of public opinion at a time when climate change is challenging migration as the dominant theme in European politics.

Kurz and Kogler reiterated that they were elected for very specific policies such as a balanced budget, no tax increases and a tough line on migration on the conservative side, and climate-friendly policies and increased transparency in politics on the Green side.

(Updates with comments from Green leader.)

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