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Austrian Leader Quits as Anti-migrant Mood Spreads

  • VOA News

FILE - Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann addresses a news conference after a cabinet meeting in Vienna, Feb. 16, 2016.

FILE - Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann addresses a news conference after a cabinet meeting in Vienna, Feb. 16, 2016.

Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann abruptly resigned Monday, two weeks after his center-left Social Democratic Party's presidential nominee was drubbed in first-round elections by an anti-immigration far right candidate.

Faymann, chancellor for the past eight years, said he no longer had the "strong backing" of his party.

"As a result of this insufficient support, I am accepting the consequences and resign my functions as party leader and chancellor, effective today," he said.

It was not immediately clear who will succeed him. Austrian media reports say Faymann's successor will be chosen at an extraordinary party summit set for May 17.

The Euro-skeptic far right Freedom Party's candidate, Norbert Hofer, finished first in the April 24 polls with just more than 35 percent of the vote. Green Party nominee Alexander Van der Bellen finished a distant second with 21 percent, setting the stage for for a runoff election May 22.

Hofer's first place finish, the far right's best showing since 1945, is widely seen as reflecting rising voter alarm over Europe's ongoing migrant influx and dissatisfaction with the European Union role in the crisis.

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