Why this story matters:
Despite some mishaps and debacles, Austria's right-wing ruling coalition continues to enjoy high popularity ratings. Chancellor Sebastian Kurz is still leading the polls. What is it that makes the current government so likeable?
In short, they have good PR. Experts attest that the coalition excels in image management and is "very, very structured" when it comes to planning their media coverage.
"In marketing terms, this chancellor is pretty perfect, although if you listen closely, you will hear only empty formulas," states political analyst Anton Pelinka.
So far, it seems that Kurz has smoothly evaded controversy. He may keep on doing so throughout his term, but he could also be biding his time before showing his true colors.
Details from the story:
- According to pollster Peter Hajek, Kurz is good at controlling the political message "as long as the situation does not require him to take a clearer stand, especially not in line with his coalition partner". (Kurz's party rules jointly with the right-wing populist Freedom Party.)
- The issues on which the coalition disagrees are the reform of emergency assistance, unemployment benefits and minimum income.
- Hajek claims that the coalition has so far been frictionless because previous arrangements were respected. For example, Kurz kept his promise to bring a possible lift of the smoking ban to the negotiation table despite opinion differences.
- The upcoming EU Presidency, in the second half of the year, will doubtless be a serious test for the coalition.