The head of Austria’s conservative People’s Party Sebastian Kurz is on track to become the world’s youngest leader.
Projections in the country’s general election showed the 31-year-old was set to take just over 31 percent of the vote.
But despite jubilant scenes among his supporters, the initial result puts Kurz’s party well short of a majority, potentially pushing him into bed with the far-right.
Speaking after the projected results were announced Kurz said: “We have made the impossible possible, thank you for your commitment and for this historic success.”
He added, “It is our task to talk and work with all the others for our country and it is our task to change the country for the positive.”
As counting continued the Social Democrats of current chancellor Christian Kern were battling it out with the far-right for second place.
Lamenting Austria’s lurch to the right, Kern said:“We have seen a massive shift to the right in the country. During the last 24 months here, possibly more – there has been a constant and brutal right-wing political agenda carried out by political parties but honestly we cannot exclude the media from this either.”
For the far-right led by Heinz-Christian Strache it was a memorable night.
Delivering one of its strongest performances in an election his anti-immigration Freedom Party was tipped to take just over a quarter of the vote, putting it in a position to rejoin government after a 12-year absence.
Strache had accused Kurz during the campaign of stealing his policies after the later had pledged to shut down migrant routes in the wake of Europe’s 2015 refugee crisis.