When Sebastian Kurz, Austria’s conservative political boy wonder, and Green Party leader Werner Kogler stepped in front of the nation’s TV cameras to announce an unlikely new coalition government in early January, after months of talks, neither seemed very excited. The gaps between their parties were still wide, and the compromises many. Nevertheless, in the end, they had agreed on a governing program that emphasizes restrictions on migration and more border security, including a much-criticized ban on headscarves for girls under the age of 14 and preemptive detention for migrants who have not committed any crimes. There is also an ambitious if discordant goal to make Austria climate neutral by 2040.
Denise Hruby is a journalist based in Vienna, Austria, who covers politics, environmental and social issues. Her reporting has appeared in National Geographic, CNN, the BBC, the Guardian and The Washington Post. She’s a National Geographic Explorer and International Women’s Media Foundation fellow.