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World News

SCENARIOS: Possible options after Austria elections

(Reuters) - The far right scored a record 29 percent of the vote in Austria’s parliamentary election on Sunday while the two main centrist parties slumped to their worst result since World War Two, projections showed.

The outcome signaled political instability in the affluent Alpine republic since the two traditional governing parties will struggle to re-establish a broad coalition.

Following are possible scenarios:

SOCIAL DEMOCRATS AND PEOPLE’S PARTY

The outgoing, failed coalition of the main parties is the favorite option of Social Democrat leader Werner Faymann and he is likely to try and win over conservatives for a reprise.

Some analysts say the coalition’s demise was caused more by personal than by policy differences, and under a changed conservative leadership it could be more successful.

If conservatives see the result as a punishment for their being junior partner in a left-right coalition, they could be tempted to try and orchestrate a right-wing pact.

PEOPLE’S PARTY, FREEDOM AND ALLIANCE

In 1999, conservatives also suffered a massive election defeat but turned that into a victory when they broke a taboo and formed a government with the Freedom Party in 2000.

Conservative leader Wilhelm Molterer has ruled out a deal with Freedom, but he has left a door ajar if Freedom renounces some of its anti-European Union positions.

All three right-of-center parties support tough policies on immigration and crime. Conservatives and Alliance are pro-business, while Freedom’s economic policies rely more on state intervention.

SOCIAL DEMOCRATS, FREEDOM AND ALLIANCE

Leader Faymann has ruled out such a coalition and would risk splitting his party if he wooed the right. But he has not ruled out seeking Freedom’s support for a minority government.

SOCIAL DEMOCRAT MINORITY GOVERNMENT

The Social Democrats could seek to lead a minority government. However, such a government would be extraordinary for Austria and under permanent threat of no-confidence votes in parliament -- especially because there are other options on the table. Freedom leader Heinz-Christian Strache has ruled out cooperating in this way.

Reporting by Boris Groendahl; Editing by Giles Elgood

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