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Conservatives Win Austrian Parliamentary Election


Austria's Sebastian Kurz Tipped to Become World's Youngest Leader
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Austria's Sebastian Kurz Tipped to Become World's Youngest Leader

After more than six decades of moderate and centrist governments, Austria appears to be shifting to the right after conservative Sebastian Kurz and his People's Party won Sunday's parliamentary election.

With almost all the votes counted, the People's Party took nearly 32 percent of the vote while the far-right anti-immigrant Freedom Party won 27 percent. It was barely ahead of the ruling Social Democrats, who finished with a little less than 27 percent. They had been in a coalition with the conservatives.

The 31-year-old Kurz, Austria's current foreign minister, will likely become Europe's youngest leader.

"Today is not the day of triumph over others, but today is our chance for real change in this country," he told cheering supporters Sunday night.

Short of an absolute majority, Austrian political observers say Kurz is likely to form a coalition with the Freedom Party and send Austria on a right-wing path after decades of centrism. Many Austrians have been complaining about stagnant leadership.

The Freedom Party has been working to shake off its neo-Nazi image. The last time it was in the Austrian government was 17 years ago when the European Union imposed sanctions on Austria.

Immigration dominated the 2017 campaign. The People's Party and Freedom Party called for a tougher immigration policy, including cuts in social services for migrants and asylum seekers, most of whom are Muslim.

Kurz also campaigned for tax cuts and reduced EU regulations, although observers don't see Austria leaving the EU.

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