“Whizz-kid”, “Basti Fantasti” and “Messiah” are just some of the monikers given to new Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, 31, as of Monday the world’s youngest leader.
Sebastian Kurz
His conservative People’s Party (ÖVP), revamped by Kurz as a more hardline “movement”, agreed late on Friday a coalition deal with the far right that saw him sworn in on Monday.

“Our aims are quite clear. We want to ease the tax burden for people, we want to strengthen our economy, which will bolster our social system,” Kurz told reporters late Friday after agreeing the coalition.

The strategy of “putting Austrians first” propelled the sluggish ÖVP to pole position in opinion polls and Kurz to near-rock star status.

Wherever he went during the election campaign, fans sporting turquoise T-shirts would chant his name and women asked if they can hug him.

Selfie sessions with Kurz, always in slim-cut suits and tieless white shirts, lasted over two hours.

Haider comparison

Observers say there has not been such euphoria over an Austrian politician since Jörg Haider, the magnetic but controversial far-right leader who died in 2008.

In slick campaign adverts where he is scaling the Alps, Kurz promised — echoing his new partners the far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ) — to slash taxes and red tape and “return this beautiful country to the peak”.

As its chief, he drew ridicule with a 2010 council election campaign featuring the slogan “Schwarz macht geil”, or “Black makes you hot”.

Kurz posed with skimpily clad girls on top of a black Hummer, the “hot-o-mobile”, and distributed black condoms.

Meteoric rise

This blunder notwithstanding, the former law student — he never finished his degree — enjoyed a meteoric rise, becoming secretary of integration in 2011 and foreign minister two years later, aged 27.

But some critics have accused Kurz of being a “mini-dictator” running the party as a “one-man show”.

And analysts have warned that Kurz’s election will be an “earthquake” for the European Union, despite his pro-European pledge.

“He’s a ‘Haider light’ version,” said Paris-based Austria expert Patrick Moreau, adding that Kurz’s ideas on everything from immigration to economic policy represent a “complete rupture” with the EU.


At Friday night’s press conference, Kurz and FPÖ chief Heinz-Christian Strache appeared to have struck up a personal rapport — despite Strache’s at times vicious attacks in the election campaign.

But some worry that Kurz has given too much away to the FPÖ, with the far-right party securing the interior, defence and foreign ministries in the coalition deal.

“What he wanted to achieve is that both parties have their real responsibilities. In previous governments the parties blocked each other and Kurz wants to avoid that,” Hofer told AFP.