Austria’s main parties agreed to hold an early parliamentary election on October 15, Chancellor Christian Kern said on Tuesday, in a vote that might bring the far-right Freedom Party into government. In the autumn of a year that will have seen Dutch, French, British and German general elections, the Alpine republic will decide its future course on immigration, labor and social policy and its position within the European Union. “We have agreed on Oct. 15 (for parliamentary elections),” Kern said after meeting leaders of all parliamentary parties. The next election was originally due to be held in autumn 2018.
Kern’s government has been blocked for months in disputes over reform policies between his Social Democratic Party (SPO) and its conservative People’s Party (OVP) coalition partner, which have been exacerbated by internal wrangling in the OVP.
Since the OVP called for early elections on Friday and elected the 30-year-old Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz as its new leader on Sunday, its popularity ratings have jumped to 35 percent in a Research Affairs poll from around 20 percent in recent months.