The vote was triggered after Kurz’s government became embroiled in a political crisis over an undercover recording. The secretly filmed video showed Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache — of the far-right Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) — appearing to offer state contracts to a woman falsely claiming to be the niece of a Russian oligarch.
Strache resigned after the tape was revealed by Germany’s Der Spiegel news magazine and Süddeutsche Zeitung daily newspaper. Filmed in Ibiza two years ago, it was not known who recorded the video or set up the meeting. Strache denied any wrongdoing but apologized to “everyone I have disappointed with my behavior.”
The scandal was the biggest crisis Austria’s governing coalition faced since forming in 2017. Kurz’s conservative People’s Party (ÖVP) was quick to distance itself from its coalition partners.
Kurz is likely to return as Chancellor after Austrians went to the polls but he will have to decide whether to once again form a coalition with the far-right — under new leader Norbert Hofer — or turn to the left: Austria Greens, the center-left Social Democrats (SPOe) or the liberal Neos.
Coalition negotiations could take some time and if they fail there could be a minority government or — in the extreme — another election.
Elected to the chancellorship in 2017, Kurz shrewdly turned one of Europe’s biggest crises — the refugee influx of 2015 — into a vote-winner at the ballot box.
Kurz arrived in power just as Chancellor Angela Merkel’s grip in neighboring Germany appeared to be weakening. He seemed keen to dismantle at least some of her welcoming approach to migrants and take the continent down a more hardline path, despite insisting regularly on his support for the European project.
His party was the driving force behind a law banning full-face Muslim veils in public spaces in 2017.
Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen appointed a caretaker government led by constitutional lawyer Brigitte Bierlein
after Kurz’s government lost the no-confidence vote on May 27.