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Published: Mon, October 16, 2017
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

New Austrian leader 'will be Europe's youngest head of government'

New Austrian leader 'will be Europe's youngest head of government'

Led by 31-year-old Sebastian Kurz, the center-right OVP won a clear victory over their rival Social Democrats, capturing 31.6 percent of the vote, up from 24 percent four years ago.

He is expected to form a coalition with the eurosceptic right-wing Freedom Party (FPOe), which is expected to place second or third.

However, the European Jewish Congress (EJC) expressed its "profound concern" over the significant showing of the Freedom Party, which according to the exit polls gained 29 percent of the vote.

Kurz, who would be the world's youngest head of government, frequently boasted that as foreign minister he had closed the Balkan route for asylum seekers in 2016 by shutting Austrian borders to new arrivals.

The projections showed the center-left Social Democrats receiving 26.6 percent and the vote and the anti-migrant, euroskeptic Freedom Party 26.5 percent.

"If there's one topic that really dominated the campaign, it's migration and integration", said Sylvia Kritzinger, a political analyst at the University of Vienna.

The victor will probably need a coalition to govern and the far-right Freedom Party (FPO) could be kingmaker. "Especially with Kurz, it always came back to immigration".

Social Democratic Chancellor Christian Kern says his party will go into the opposition if it does not today.

Kurz and his Austrian People's Party also took a harsher tone on issues related to migration and Islam during the campaign, sparking criticisms that the OVP was drifting into right-wing populism in the hope of attracting far-right voters.

"From a rhetoric perspective, he's an absolute talent", Kritzinger said.

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