In a stunning turnaround, Austria’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz is projected to win the country’s parliamentary elections yet again.
The elections were called earlier this year after a collapse of the previously elected government from 2017, which consisted of Kurz’s center-right People’s Party (OVP) and the right-wing Freedom Party (FPO).
In these current elections, the OVP now stands at 38 percent of the vote, earning 73 seats; this is an improvement over their 2017 result, in which they won 32 percent and 62 seats. Meanwhile, the major left-wing party, the Social Democrats (SPO), and the FPO both sustained losses, with the former losing 11 seats and the latter losing 19 seats. Out of 183 possible seats in the parliament, 92 are needed for a majority.
A scandal emerged in May 2019 when a secret video recording of then-FPO leader Heinz-Christian Strache meeting with a woman who claimed to be the niece of a Russian oligarch but was actually a sting operative; Strache eventually negotiated a deal with the woman offering her business contracts in Austria in exchange for her providing positive media coverage of the FPO in then-upcoming local elections.
As a result, the right-wing government collapsed amid a vote of no confidence, and a snap election was called for September. Although Kurz had orchestrated the original right-wing government and was thus expected to face blow back from the scandal as well, his victory in the snap elections marks an upset result that proves his popularity in Austria.