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Austrian conservatives and Greens strike New Year's coalition deal

Video Credit: Reuters Studio - Duration: 01:55s - Published
Austrian conservatives and Greens strike New Year's coalition deal

Austrian conservatives and Greens strike New Year's coalition deal

Austria's conservative leader Sebastian Kurz struck a New Year's Day coalition deal with the Green's, bringing the left-wing party into government for the first time.

Joe Davies reports.

Austria's conservative leader Sebastian Kurz struck a New Year's Day coalition deal with the Green's on Wednesday (January 1), bringing the left-wing party into government for the first time.

Three months after Kurz won a parliamentary election, the deal marks a dramatic political swing in Austria as Kurz's last coalition was with the far-right Freedom Party.

(SOUNDBITE) (German) AUSTRIAN CONSERVATIVE PEOPLE'S PARTY LEADER, SEBASTIAN KURZ, SAYING: "Frankly, these negotiations on the government were not easy, because both parties are based on very different foundations.

But, in my opinion we achieved an excellent result.

We managed not to limit ourselves to minimize compromise, but instead to forge the best of the two worlds." The previous coalition collapsed in May after the then-leader of the Freedom Party Heinz-Christian Strache was caught in a video sting offering to fix state contracts.

The government's new coalition partners couldn't be more different - to them and each other.

Kurz has pledged tax cuts and a hard line on immigration.

The Greens want to change the tax system to protect the environment.

For them, it's a trade off between the compromises of power politics and the chance to shape policy.

As part of the deal, Werner Kogler's Green's will control just four of 15 ministries - environment, transport, infrastructure and energy.

(SOUNDBITE) (German) AUSTRIAN GREENS LEADER, WERNER KOGLER, SAYING: "Austria will, I believe, have the most intense and largest transparency packages in recent decades, with an offensive toward free information and, if you wish, toward a transparent state." For Kurz, regaining the reins of power is also a chance to soften his image after 17 months in coalition with a far-right that shared his views on immigration but was also prone to anti-Semitic and xenophobic scandals.

Immigration is likely to remain a point of friction with the left-wing Greens.




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