Austrian Politician Set to Be World’s Youngest Leader
An Austrian conservative is set to be the country’s youngest leader, as well as the youngest leader in the world.
Nicknamed the “Wunderwuzzi” (roughly translated as whizz kid), Sebastian Kurz, 31 was appointed leader of the conservative People’s Party (OVP) in May.
The Austrian conservative has been compared with other young leaders, like Canada’s Justin Trudeau, who is 15 years his senior, and France’s leader Emmanuel Macron.
Kurz started his career in politics as chair of the youth wing of the OVP eight years ago.
His party came out on top with 31.4 percent of the vote on Sunday, according to preliminary results from the Interior Ministry. Following closely behind was the nationalist Freedom Party (FPO) at 27.4 percent and the Social Democratic Party (SPO) with 26.7 percent.
He was Europe’s youngest foreign minister, at 27.
Like Macron, he rebranded his party, renaming the OVP to “Sebastian Kurz List,” and changing the colour scheme from black to turquoise, according to The Economist.
He made immigration his core issue, arguing against his own coalition government’s decision to throw open Austria‘s borders in lock step with Merkel’s Germany during the migration crisis. That helped cement his reputation as a polished, straight talker and made him the country’s most popular politician.
“The (election) result is above all a clear victory for the European Union, it is a clear victory for us as a pro-European force,” Kurz told Reuters.
Kurz has been careful to avoid saying which coalition partner he might favor. He has said any partner must be pro-European, without saying whether that rules out the FPO, which is critical of the bloc but no longer argues against membership.
His party’s manifesto calls for a smaller European Commission and a streamlined EU that focuses on “core competences” such as internal trade and securing the bloc’s external borders. But he declined to be drawn on specific plans.
Reuters contributed to this report.