Austria's conservative party led by Sebastian Kurz has reached a coalition deal with the anti-immigration Freedom Party, paving the way for Austria to become the only western European country with a far-right party in government.
- Austria took in more than 1 percent of its population in asylum seekers in 2015
- The Freedom Party has reportedly secured three ministries in government
- Mr Kurz will retain control over Austria's relationship with the EU
The agreement, two months after a parliamentary election dominated by Europe's migration crisis, ends more than a decade in opposition for the Freedom Party (FPO), which last entered government in 2000 with the People's Party (OVP) that Mr Kurz now leads.
His party won the October 15 election with a hard line on immigration that often overlapped with the Freedom Party's. The FPO came third with 26 per cent of the vote.
"We can inform you that there is a turquoise-blue agreement," Mr Kurz said in a joint statement to reporters with FPO leader Heinz-Christian Strache, referring to their two parties by their colours.
Mr Strache and Mr Kurz said the details of their deal would be made public on Saturday, after a meeting with President Alexander Van der Bellen and discussions with their parties' leadership structures.
"Above all we want to ensure greater security in our country, including through the fight against illegal immigration," Mr Kurz said.
In 2015, when more than a million refugees and other migrants arrived in Europe, Austria took in more than 1 per cent of its population in asylum seekers, one of the highest rates in the EU.
Many voters felt their country was overrun, and both parties have pledged to prevent a repeat of that influx.
Mr Strache and Mr Kurz have pledged to restrict new arrivals' access to many social services for their first five years in the country, and to provide recognised refugees with only a "light" version of regular benefits for five years.
While other far right parties in Europe have gained ground this year, entering parliament in Germany and making France's presidential run-off, the Freedom Party is going further by entering government and securing key ministries.
A person familiar with the talks said before the announcement that the far-right party was poised to secure the Interior, Foreign and Defence Ministries.
Kurz to retain control over EU issues
Unlike France's National Front, the FPO has backed away from calling for a referendum on leaving the European Union, but Mr Kurz has still secured a guarantee that there will be no Brexit-style referendum in Austria, a person familiar with the talks said.
Mr Kurz has sought to head off potential criticism by offering assurances that his government will be pro-European.
He also plans to shift responsibility for some EU issues from the Foreign Ministry to his office, the person familiar with the talks said, giving him greater control over EU policy.
When the FPO last entered government under the late Joerg Haider, who praised Hitler's employment policies, other EU countries imposed sanctions on Vienna in protest.
There is unlikely to be a similar outcry this time given the rise of anti-establishment parties across the continent.
Mr Kurz, who is just 31, campaigned on the promise of bringing change to Austrian politics despite heading a party that has constantly been in power in various coalitions for the past 30 years.
Many of the policies he and Mr Strache have announced, such as cutting taxes and spending, have been proposed with few details so far.
"We ask for your understanding that we can only provide more detailed information tomorrow," Mr Kurz said.