Austria: Government shutdown after coalition talks collapse

Image copyright 2019 AFP Image caption Chancellor Sebastian Kurz proposed a new term for Austria after coalition talks collapsed in December

Austria has put itself into a national lockdown.

Government buildings have been locked down and calls have been made for soldiers to be mobilised after officials failed to reach an agreement on a coalition government.

“There is no alternative strategy,” Chancellor Sebastian Kurz told his Cabinet after he declared the talks “dead”.

Lawmakers have been asked to form another caretaker government until a new premier can be elected.

In the meantime, soldiers have been deployed on the streets.

Security services were on high alert after the announcement on Friday evening.

In schools, kindergartens and the IT lab in schools in Zwickau, central Austria, the captain of the police force was standing on every corner warning parents and children of the situation.

Normal security checks were suspended in the town, Austrian newspaper Die Presse reported.

Image copyright AFP Image caption Bild newspaper

A planned “safe city” drive organised by police and police reservists was cancelled after parents of pupils refused to participate.

Mr Kurz was one of the most popular political leaders in the country after striking a coalition deal with the far-right Freedom Party (FPO) in November.

The far-right party ran on a platform of a “politically motivated” migration policy, and support for the FPO in Austria peaked at 33% in last summer’s European parliamentary elections.

Polling data for the parliamentary elections scheduled for December shows support for the FPO is stable in the mid-20s.

The FPO has been dominated by a hardline faction of the party founded by the late Joerg Haider in 1988, and a very different image of Austria’s political identity.

Leave a Comment