Three days before Austrians went to the polls to elect a new parliament and a new chancellor, several-hundred members and campaign volunteers of the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) gathered at the party’s political academy, where it trains young members and potential future candidates, to watch the final debate of the campaign. Surrounded by the old building’s dark, wood-paneled walls, many wore black and gray suit jackets. But sprinkled in amid the staid, conservative tones, were countless splashes of bright turquoise—the new color selected by the traditionally center-right party for its new candidate and now-expected chancellor-elect, the 31-year-old Sebastian Kurz. The younger members wore turquoise-colored “Team Kurz” jackets and leather bracelets with the letter “K” branded onto them; they drank beer out of plastic cups emblazoned with Kurz 2017 and, in turquoise print: Refreshing. Different.
Kurz and his message of change were victorious on Sunday night, with his ÖVP winning more than 31 percent of the vote. This result is expected to usher a rightward turn for Austria’s government, with Kurz at the helm as chancellor, in a likely coalition with the far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ). “We have built a movement,” Kurz told supporters Sunday night at an election celebration in Vienna. “We have made the impossible possible … this is our chance for real change in this country.”