The removal of the obstacle to a new grand coalition in Austria – namely Wilhelm Molterer – could bury the chances of the far-right parties returning to government. With Molterer gone from the head of the People’s Party, the way is clear for the former coalition partners to regroup with a new face – or two.
Josef Proell, who takes over from Molterer, is deemed more liberal. Some said he should have been the leader going into the elections anyway. More crucially Proell is friends with the Social Democrats new leader, Werner Faymann. Faymann has already said he wants to try another coalition with the People’s Party.
The Social Democrats scored best in Sunday’s election but did not come out with a majority. The conservative Peoples party got its worst result since the War.
The Far Right, which rocketed to nearly a 30% share between the Freedom Party and the Alliance for the future of Austria were no doubt eyeing a return to government. Today’s developments could well cast them out into the cold before the champagne has even gone flat on their celebrations.