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conservatives name new leader


Austria’s conservatives have named a new leader, increasing the chances of a new centrist coalition after the weekend’s snap election which saw far-right parties performing strongly.

Josef Proell is a prominent party liberal who has previously taken on the traditional, Christian wing and who, unlike outgoing leader Wilhelm Molterer, has a good relationship with Social Democrat leader Werner Faymann.

Faymann, whose party lost ground but still won the most votes, is known to favour forming a broad left-right coalition.

But critics say that would be a repeat of the last government – which collapsed in June due to in-fighting, triggering the snap poll.

Experts say Proell may use the prospect of a coalition with the resurgent far-right as a bargaining chip in his talks with Faymann.

The far-right Freedom Party, which calls for a halt to immigration and the creation of a ministry for repatriating foreigners, led an energetic, youth-focused campaign.

It was a strategy that paid off – Freedom and the splinter party, Alliance for Austria’s Future, led by former Freedom leader Joerg Haider, mopped up nearly a third of votes between them.

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