The leader of Austria’s conservatives Sebastian Kurz was sworn in Tuesday as the world’s youngest democratically elected leader, at the head of an unlikely coalition with the Greens following the collapse of his previous alliance with the far-right.
Vowing to “protect the climate and the borders”, the 33-year-old has become chancellor of the Alpine country’s first government to include the Greens, an arrangement called “exotic” and “unlikely” by Austrian media.
Speaking at a handover ceremony with his predecessor Brigitte Bierlein, Kurz said it was “good to be able to continue working for Austria” and promised: “We will strive every day to give our best.”
Kurz’s People’s Party (OeVP) and the Greens agreed last week to govern together after the last administration with the far-right fell apart in a corruption scandal. Both the OeVP and the ecologist party made key gains in September’s snap polls.
President Alexander Van der Bellen reminded the new government that “citizens have great expectations of you,” adding that “trust must be rebuilt”.
The new government aims to please both parties by pushing for Austria to be carbon neutral by 2040 and also continuing previous strict anti-immigration measures.
Some observers think that if successful the alliance could become a model for other European countries as nations across the continent grapple with populist sentiments but also climate change.