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Far Right Parties Mark Gains in Austrian Elections


The far right made an unexpectedly good showing in Austrian legislative elections Sunday, scoring nearly 29 percent of the vote - about the same as the leading Social Democrats. But from Paris, Lisa Bryant reports for VOA that the final government is unlikely to include extreme rightist parties, with the Social Democrats and their coalition partner People's Party receiving more than 55 percent of the vote.

The far right was expected to make gains, but Sunday's surge was larger than some predicted, with the two right-wing groups - the Freedom and the Alliance for the Future of Austria parties - scoring nearly a third of the parliamentary vote.

By contrast, the two leading parties - the Social Democrats and the People's Party, which had a fractious coalition government - lost ground.

Harald Vilinsky, general secretary of the anti-immigration Freedom Party, sounded a confident note about the results.

Vilinsky sad the results were not unexpected. The party had reached its elections goals and was optimistic about its prospects.

Austria has tilted rightward before - in 1999, the Freedom Party captured 27 percent of the votes and was included in a coalition government. That lead to European Union sanctions against Austria.

This time around, analysts believe voter support does not necessarily mean Austrians are more extremist than before. Rather, they are fed up with the outgoing coalition government, which has been torn by infighting.

This time around, a coalition government with the far right does not appear in the cards, as the head of the leading Social Democrats Party has rejected this prospect. That leaves the question open about just what kind of government Austria will have next.

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