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Wonderkid Kurz becomes Chancellor of Austria

Wonderkid Kurz becomes Chancellor of Austria
By Robert Hackwill
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The 31-year-old brings the far-right FPO into government with his OVP in coalition.


The rise of Sebastian Kurz has been rapid, surprising perhaps even himself.

He is now at the top table, and on occasion appears taken by the novelty, taking pictures of the assembled ranks of journalists at meetings.  Probably for social media purposes, no doubt.

Kurz insists he is no Wonderboy, but the path from party member to leadership to Foreign Minister and now the Chancellor's office has been ruthlessly cleared of all obstacles in double time by a man who is frank and upfront about being on a mission.

More than just a fresh face, the 31-year-old says he brings new ideas. But his Monday swearing-in ceremony also saw protests outside the parliament in Vienna from those who remain unconvinced by Kurz.

The fresh ideas started within his party, the OVP. Only eight years ago he was merely chair of the party's Youth wing, but he tore up the OVP's historical alliance with farmers, entrepreneurs and workers' interest groups, insisting he make all the decisions.

And last Friday Kurz took the OVP into a coalition with the right wing populist FPÖ, the second time the mainstream right has embraced the nationalistic Eurosceptic party this century. So much for new ideas.

On the stump he strikes the right tone, rolling his sleeves up, meeting people and proposing bold ideas;

'Let's scrap Austrian corporatism', he says, 'let people be valued for what they do and not what they are."

Too bold by half sniff the detractors, pointing to missteps like an election stunt that thought a "Black makes you sexy" sloganned photo-shoot with a model draped on a Hummer was a good idea.

Doing a deal with the far-right ended badly the last time for the OVP but Kurz is determined to put Austria first, he says. Tax cuts, security and the migrant question need adressing now; the EU referendum can wait and the FPO should sit tight and play ball.

While Foreign Minister Kurz spent big on migrant integration programs. Now policy is to sharply cut asylum seekers' benefits, but Kurz insists that his promise origins should be no barrier to success applies to them, too.

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