Austria's new centre-right leader Sebastian Kurz called today for snap elections, heralding the imminent collapse of the ruling coalition after months of in- fighting. Setting up another nail-biting vote in Europe, that could see the populist far-right win power.
Kurz said his party's coalition with the centre-left could not continue. "The major decisions on the direction that this country takes must be taken by voters," Kurz told reporters in Vienna after being appointed head of his People's Party (OeVP). He said that he would meet tomorrow with Chancellor Christian Kern and the president to propose a joint parliamentary motion for elections to be held "after the summer". Austria's unhappy "grand coalition" between Kern's centre-left Social Democrats (SPOe) and the centre-right OeVP is meant to govern until late 2018. But after months of failing to agree much in the way of reforms to boost Austria's lagging economy, the head of the OeVP, Reinhold Mitterlehner, resigned last Wednesday. Two days later Kurz, who is only 30 and who is seen as the rising star of Austrian politics, called for the coalition to pull the plug. Earlier today Kern, 51, who has been chancellor for just a year, had said he was resigned to Austrians going to the polls in the autumn. The OeVP "made it quite clear that they don't want (to be in coalition) any more," Kern said on public TV.
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