On Sunday, October 15, Austrians will take to the polls to elect a new head of government. According to the latest polls, current Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz is expected to become the country’s next chancellor, although over a quarter of Austrian voters are reportedly still undecided.
Austria’s elections will have a direct effect on the European Union, as the new chancellor is set to assume the EU’s rotating presidency during the second half of 2018.
If Kurz is to become chancellor, he is likely to form a coalition with the nationalist Freedom Party in order to create a new government. The Freedom Party has been widely criticized by the EU community due to its former leader’s praise of Adolf Hitler. When the Freedom Party entered government in 2000, the EU imposed a diplomatic boycott on Austria.
As a reminder, 2018 is likely to be a decisive period for the EU as it will oversee most of the Brexit negotiations. Kurz is expected to support economic austerity and restrictive immigration policies.
Individuals in Austria are advised to keep abreast of the situation.