Austria's Kurz returns as world's youngest chancellor in new coalition with Greens
CGTN

Austrian conservative Sebastian Kurz returned to power on Tuesday as his coalition cabinet with the Greens was sworn in almost eight months after his alliance with the far right collapsed in the wake of a video sting.

Vowing to "protect the climate and the borders," the 33-year-old has become chancellor of a government – called "exotic" and "unlikely" by Austrian media – that marks the first time the Greens have been in a national government in the Alpine country.

Kurz's People's Party (OeVP) and the Greens agreed last week to govern together after the last administration with the far-right fell apart in a corruption scandal.

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The alliance aims to please both sides by pushing for Austria to be carbon-neutral by 2040 and also continuing previous strict anti-immigration measures.

Kurz – whose conservative OeVP has been in government for more than three decades – has defended the undertaking as combining "the best of both worlds."

Kurz's People's Party (OeVP) and the Greens have carved up ministries roughly in proportion to their scores in the September parliamentary election, which the OVP won with 37.5 percent of votes. The Greens came fourth on 13.9 percent.

The OeVP has 10 posts in the new coalition, controlling ministries including finance, interior and defense.

The Greens, in government for the first time, have four including its party chief Werner Kogler who is taking on the vice-chancellorship.

(From L to R) New Austrian Vice Chancellor Werner Kogler, new Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Austrian President Alexander Van Der Bellen talk during the swearing-in ceremony of the new Austrian government of the conservative Austrian People's Party, OeVP, and the Austrian Green party in Vienna, Austria, on January 7, 2020. /AP Photo

(From L to R) New Austrian Vice Chancellor Werner Kogler, new Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Austrian President Alexander Van Der Bellen talk during the swearing-in ceremony of the new Austrian government of the conservative Austrian People's Party, OeVP, and the Austrian Green party in Vienna, Austria, on January 7, 2020. /AP Photo

Kurz first became the world's youngest chancellor in a government with the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe) from December 2017 until May last year, driving a hard line against immigration and brushing off a steady stream of racist and anti-Semitic incidents involving his far-right colleagues. 

But then the FPOe leader and vice-chancellor became engulfed in a graft scandal, leading to the collapse of the coalition and snap elections.

Disappointed FPOe supporters dealt the party a setback in the polls, many shifting their votes to the OeVP which increased its vote by almost six points from 2017.

The Greens, who failed to get into parliament in a shock result in 2017, garnered 13.8 percent as climate change replaced immigration as a top voter concern.

Party officials have said they have had to make "painful" compromises to reach the agreement with the powerful conservatives.

(With input from AFP, Reuters)

(Cover: New Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (L) talks with new Austrian Vice Chancellor Werner Kogler during the swearing-in ceremony of the new Austrian government of the conservative Austrian People's Party, OeVP, and the Austrian Green party in Vienna, Austria, on January 7, 2020. /AP Photo)