Austrian voters gave 31-year-old conservative Sebastian Kurz a mandate to form a new government in an election on Sunday, setting up a potential coalition with the nationalist Freedom Party, according to projections based on partial returns, Bloomberg Reports
Kurz’s People’s Party took as much as 31 percent of the vote, with the Freedom Party polling as much 27.6 percent, according to separate projections by two polling groups. Both showed Chancellor Christian Kern’s Social Democrats in third place with about 26 percent.
Though absentee and mail ballots have yet to be counted, the projections suggest that the anti-immigration Freedom Party will return to government in Austria for the first time since 2005 and a decade of Social Democratic rule will end. That’s after its candidate almost won the country’s presidency, a mostly ceremonial post, in a run-off vote last year.
After an electoral campaign dominated by immigration and fair access to social security, Kurz could become the world’s youngest leader with Freedom’s Heinz-Christian Strache, 48, his likely vice chancellor.