Leadership

This 31-year-old millennial is set to be the world's youngest head of state

Sebastian Kurz, Austrian Foreign Minister and leader of the conservative Austrian People’s Party speaks at the party's election event after initial results came in that give the party a first place finish .
Thomas Kronsteiner | Getty Images
Sebastian Kurz, Austrian Foreign Minister and leader of the conservative Austrian People’s Party speaks at the party's election event after initial results came in that give the party a first place finish .

Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz is set to become the world's youngest head of state and the first millennial to lead a European country, according to the Associated Press.

The country's conservative People's Party (ÖVP) declared victory in the country's general election on Sunday, which 31-year-old Kurz called a "historic success." Although no party won a majority, the chancellor-elect will likely be sworn in after government negotiations, as the ÖVP has been in power for more than 30 years, according to the Associated Press and BBC.

"He defies the traditional stodgy image of politicians and mostly goes without a tie, works standing behind a desk and flies economy class," the Associated Press reports.

Kurz still lives in the Vienna neighborhood where he grew up and shares a small apartment with his girlfriend, Ozy reports.

Kurz has also gained the nickname "Wunderwuzzi" or roughly translated to "Wonder Kid," reports France 24, achieving some level of rock star status where selfie sessions with him can reportedly last over two hours.

The Austrian leader is otherwise private about much of his life outside of politics, the Associated Press reports. But he has been interested in the field since he was at least 17.

At the time, Kurz joined the Young Austrian People's Party, the youth branch of the ÖVP, according to his official website. He graduated high school in 2004 and the following year, continued on to study law at University of Vienna. But as Kurz took on more political roles, he put his law studies on hold to instead pursue his career, Politico EU reported.

Kurz quickly began his ascent when he became the chairman of the ÖVP's youth branch in 2008. Just less than 10 years later, Kurz would be designated to the chairman of the overall ÖVP in May 2017.

At 27, Kurz became the youngest Foreign Minister in the European Union.

His political success over the years has grown an enthusiastic fan base, which even includes Austrian-American actor and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. He expressed his good wishes to Kurz in a recent Facebook video.

Kurt's strategy to put Austrians first gave him an advantage in the election, as Europe still struggles with issues of migration and terrorism, the Atlantic reports. His right-leaning, anti-immigration views have resonated with Austrians and European leaders alike.

Although the ÖVP has been a traditionally center-right party, Kurz rebranded it as "the New People's Party" and has garnered popularity through his election campaign. Kurz's also updated the party's signature color from black to aquamarine blue, a color donned by many of the supporters at polls.

His involvement in politics since his teen years is likely at play as well, the Atlantic reports, adding that he is popular among Austrian voters and is well-respected in political and media circles.

In 2013, Kurz became Europe's youngest foreign minister at age 27 and has served as chairman of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the world's largest regional security organization.

Kurz has a history of taking to Twitter to condemn terrorist attacks, discuss safety issues and express his support for humanitarian access and human rights.

Notably, Kurtz may be on the cusp of becoming chancellor of Austria, but he once said he plans to move away from politics. He reportedly feels this way because he comes from a generation where staying put at one job is not necessarily "a thing," according to Ozy.

"I don't plan to stay in politics for life," he tells the publication. "I'll continue to work here for as long as I feel I can get things done."

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