Austria plans snap election in October

May 17 (UPI) — Austria has scheduled a snap Parliament election on Oct. 15 after the central coalition collapsed Tuesday.

The far-right Freedom Party hopes to become part of a coalition, CNN reported.

The Freedom Party, which was last involved in a coalition in 1999, was founded in 1955, initially getting support from former National Socialists, or Nazis.

Last December, Freedom Party candidate Norbert Hofer narrowly lost in the country’s presidential race after campaigning on an anti-immigration platform. Independent Van der Bellen, a former leader of the Green Party, edged out Hofer. Last May, Van der Bellen defeated Hofer by little more than 30,000 votes but a new election took place because of concerns of how the ballots were handled.

The government is chosen by the Austrian president and includes the strongest parties in Parliament.

Chancellor Christian Kern, leader of the center-left Social Democrats, was chosen last year.

Kern is opposed to a snap election but his vice chancellor and leader of the center-right People’s Party, Reinhold Mitterlehner, resigned on May 10.

His replacement, Sebastian Kurz, a 30-year-old foreign minister, called for a snap election.

The People’s Party refers to Kurz as “Wunderwuzzi,” an Austrian term for whiz kid. In the new elections, the party will be called the New People’s Party

The coalition was supposed to be in place until 2018, but it’s been hampered by infighting, Mitterlehner said in his resignation announcement.

The People’s Party last triggered an election in 2008.

According to a survey in February, 35 percent of the country’s population was satisfied with the coalition. The Social Democrats, People’s Party and Freedom Party all score in the mid-20s in opinion polls.

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