Austria's Unusually "Ordinary" Crisis

Strache's “Drunken story” has become pretext for an attack against the Sebastian Kurz government. After the collapse of the ruling right-wing conservative coalition, the initiative passed into the hands of the parliamentary opposition and, above all, to the Social Democratic Party of Austria (SDPA). In the lower house, the Social Democrats have 52 seats out of 183. Kurz rolled the dice, abandoning the idea of ​​reconstructing the government and forming a cabinet with a parliamentary minority. The no confidence vote against the Chancellor and the Government was decided by MPs from the SDPA, the Austrian Freedom Party (recently jilted by Kurz) and the Jetzt Party. This means that Kurz will not be able to lead the temporary, so-called technical cabinet. This is a chance for politicians and “second echelon” careerists to express themselves, first of all, in their own parties.

The unusual nature of the government crisis lies in its artificiality, externality and transience, which deprived its participants of political manoeuvre. The only thing that makes this crisis unique is its institutional solution.

The results of the European Parliament elections, in which the Austrian People’s Party (APP) received the support of 34.9% of voters, show that in early parliamentary elections, conservatives have a good chance, at least, to maintain their political positions. Probably, following the results of the autumn National Council elections, the Kurz party will be able to claim again the right to form a government. Now observers and political scientists should take a closer look at what is happening in the small parties of Austria, and at their coalition potential. It is possible that the right flank of the party spectrum in Austria will not undergo significant changes, unless an insignificant part of the votes of the Freedom Party of Austria can be given to the APP. It is interesting here what will happen inside the Freedom Party, how profound will be the changes associated with the new leader - Norbert Hofer. The left-liberal flank faces a more difficult situation. The SDPA can hardly succeed in rallying small parties. The ideological attitudes of the greens, like of other political groups, differ significantly from the goals of the social democrats. An overturning of the whole political situation in Austria is unlikely. The perspectives of the “broad coalition” (APP-SDPA) are foggy.

As for foreign policy, including the so-called Russian trace, it is hardly necessary to expect drastic changes before the formation of a permanent cabinet. At the same time, the inertia of a positive attitude of the Austrian political class towards Russia may be under pressure from external agents, primarily from Brussels and Washington.

Poor Kurz: The Young Austrian Chancellor's Strategic Mistake
Alexander Rahr
Sebastian Kurz made a strategic mistake when he expelled his party's partner, the populist Austrian Freedom Party, from the government. Thus, he was virtually left without a government, without a majority in parliament. He thought that the Social Democrats, the main opposition force, would not oppose him. However, they had an agreement with the right-wing populists and overthrew Kurz.
Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.