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Austria's Ruling Party Announces Pick for New Chancellor

  • VOA News

FILE - Austrian railways corporation Osterreichische Bundesbahnen (OeBB) CEO Christian Kern addresses a news conference in Vienna, Jan. 31, 2014. Kern will be formally chosen as chancellor next week.

FILE - Austrian railways corporation Osterreichische Bundesbahnen (OeBB) CEO Christian Kern addresses a news conference in Vienna, Jan. 31, 2014. Kern will be formally chosen as chancellor next week.

Austria's ruling Social Democratic Party has settled on the head of the nation's railway network as the country's next chancellor.

Michael Haepul, the party's acting leader, said Friday that Christian Kern will be formally chosen during a party leadership meeting next Tuesday. Kern is widely admired for turning around the national rail company's fortunes.

Kern will replace Werner Faymann, who resigned on Monday after the SPO's presidential candidate was drubbed in first-round elections by a candidate from the far-right, anti-immigration Freedom Party.

The loss was the latest electoral defeat for the SPO and its coalition partner, the conservative People's Party, which has dominated Austrian politics for decades.

The Freedom Party's candidate, Norbert Hofer, finished first in the April 24 polls with 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 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's role in the crisis.

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