Austrian Greens open to coalition talks with troubled Conservatives

Austria’s Greens Announced on Sunday (Nov. 10th) that they are willing to enter into formal coalition talks with former Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s Conservative Party, opening the door to negotiations that could bring them into national government for the first time, Reuters reports. 

Kurz’s conservatives won the September 29th parliamentary election - held in the aftermath of a video sting scandal that ended his coalition government with the far right - by a clear margin. But he needs to form a coalition in order to control parliament. 

Despite their starkly different political programmes, Kurz’s party and the Greens, who finished fourth in the September ballot, held several weeks of preliminary talks that finished last week. 

Failure to move on to formal talks would mean Kurz would need to turn to either the Social Democrats, with whom he has had difficult relations, or again to a far right still reeling from the sting, in which its leader was filmed offering to fix government contracts at a dinner party. Kurz will be well aware that renewing that particular alliance could damage his credibility. 

As a last resort, Kurz could of course attempt to set up a minority government. 

“The Austrian Greens want to enter concrete government talks with the Austrian People’s Party (OVP),” Greens leader Werner Kogler told a news conference, adding that his party’s leadership had reached the decision unanimously. 

The left-wing Greens and Kurz’s OVP have declined to comment on the details of their talks, but they will have to bridge a yawning political divide against a backdrop of growing calls worldwide for urgent action on limiting climate change. 

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