Austria’s right-wing “whizz-kid” Sebastian Kurz

Full of praise for Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Kurz claimed credit for closing the Balkan migrant trail in 2016


“Whizz-kid”, “Basti Fantasti” and even “Messiah” – these are just some of the accolades awarded to 33-year-old Sebastian Kurz, whose place at the top of Austrian politics was confirmed in snap elections on Sunday.

Despite presiding over a period of unusual instability, the millennial leader of the center-right People’s Party (OeVP) maintained his supporter base winning 37 percent of the vote – even if he has proved a polarizing figure.

With his party winning most votes in Sunday’s poll, the stage is set for the latest chapter in a meteoric rise that began when he entered government at the age of just 24, having dropped out of his law studies to focus on politics.

A few years later he had become the world’s youngest elected leader at 31.

The plan surely did not include having to pull the plug on his coalition with the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe) in May over a corruption scandal, but Kurz emerged from that affair largely unscathed.

The OeVP projected results are up almost six percentage points compared to the last polls in 2017, but it remains to be seen who he will work with next.

The analyst Johannes Huber says his success is down to “his perfectly honed skill in rhetoric.” And his appearance “is always impeccable”.

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