Austria's snap election: Everything you need to know


Voting opened at 6am UK time (7am local time) and closes at 4pm UK time (5pm local time), when the exit poll will be announced.

The vote could see 31-year-old conservative leader Sebastian Kurz become the new head of government.

Why is he so popular and why is Austria holding a snap election?

Here are your questions answered.

What is the structure of the Austrian government?

Austria has a similar government structure to Germany.

A chancellor in Austria and Germany is equivalent to a prime minister.

The president of Austria is the federal head of state and is mostly a figurehead who acts on the advice of the chancellor.

Austria is electing a new chancellor, who will be the leader of the strongest party.

Who is in power at the moment?

There is currently a coalition government in place in the country between the centre-left Social Democratic Party and the centre-right Conservative People's Party.

Post-war Austria has had a "grand coalition" arrangement where the two main parties form a government.

Who's who?

Christian Kern is the current Chancellor of Austria and chairman of the Social Democratic Party.

Mr Kurz is the leader of the Conservative People's Party (or Austrian People's Party), and polls suggest he will win the largest share of the vote.

Heinz-Christian Strache is head of the right-wing, populist Freedom Party.

How popular is the Freedom Party?

The Freedom Party was very popular for a year, leading in opinion polls.

This changed when Mr Kurz took over the Conservative People's Party in May, driving it into first place.

However, due to the nation's attitude towards immigration, there might be growing support for the Freedom Party, which takes a hard stance on the issue.

The Freedom Party could be instrumental in forming a government if it comes in second place, beating the Social Democratic Party and pushing them out of power.

Why was this snap election called?

Reinhold Mitterlehner resigned as vice chancellor and leader of the Conservative People's Party in May.

His resignation came amid conflict between him and Mr Kern, the Chancellor and Social Democratic Party leader.

Mr Kurz became new vice chancellor, and called an early election.

Why is everyone talking about Sebastian Kurz?

Mr Kurz became the world's youngest serving foreign minister in 2013 at the age of 27.

He was accused of being "hard-hearted" by Germany's Die Welt newspaper after calling for a more robust outer EU border, and for an end to the charity rescues of refugees in the Mediterranean.

His Conservative People's Party has been taking the lead in recent polls.

What are the big issues facing the parties?

Immigration is a very hot topic. Austria took in more than 1% of its population in asylum seekers in 2015, or about 87,000 people.

This caused attitudes towards immigrants and immigration to harden considerably.

Mr Kurz has pledged to take a harder stance on immigration and challenge Angela Merkel's approach.

What's likely to happen?

Polls suggest Mr Kurz is on course to win the election and become the next chancellor, teaming up with the far-right Freedom Party.

(c) Sky News 2017: Austria's snap election: Everything you need to know

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