Austria's Kern Says Early Vote Certain After Party Ends Pact

  • New People’s Party leader Kurz will meet with Kern on Monday
  • Both politicians say new elections seen in third quarter

Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern said his country is headed for early elections in the fall after the conservative People’s Party effectively abandoned the government coalition on Friday.

“I assume that there’s certainly going to be an election this fall,” Kern told Austrian public broadcaster ORF in an interview on Sunday. “It was most evident, in front of running cameras and broadcast live, that the designated head of the People’s Party told us that the pact is over. Everybody could see that.”

Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz said that he’d meet with Kern and President Alexander Van der Bellen on Monday in Vienna to discuss holding elections after the summer. Kurz, 30, made the announcement after being named the head of the People’s Party.

Christian Kern

Photographer: Lisi Niesner/Bloomberg

The chancellor said his Social Democrats would decide in the coming days whether they would back a motion to dissolve parliament, and whether to continue to work with the conservatives on a temporary basis. A decision also would be based on the conservatives’ strategy.

The People’s Party met in Vienna on Sunday to formally name Kurz as its new leader, replacing Vice Chancellor Reinhold Mitterlehner, whose resignation last week led to Kern’s coalition unraveling. 

Kurz won key concessions from his party in return for accepting leadership. He’ll have free rein over personnel and policy issues, and will seek to infuse the party with new talent, Kurz said at a press conference.

“It can’t go on like it was,” Kurz told journalists in reference to his party’s internal leadership squabbles and public bickering. The People’s Party is willing to continue governing with the Social Democrats until elections are called, he said.

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