“Partly due to the embarrassing defeat in the presidential election, discontent with the leadership within the SPÖ rose to such a point that in May 2016 the party’s leader and chancellor Werner Faymann stepped down. A week later, Christian Kern, CEO of the Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB), was introduced as his successor. Soon after, Sebastian Kurz, the then 30-year old charismatic foreign minister and rising star of the party, took over the ÖVP and called snap elections. The ÖVP launched a highly personalised election campaign, with clear populist features. Meanwhile, the FPÖ was not a major presence in the early campaign, possibly due to their limited resources after a year of backing Norbert Hofer’s ultimately unsuccessful presidential campaign.”

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