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Austria to go to the polls after coalition collapse

 Austria to go to the polls after coalition collapse
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A snap election looks to be on the cards in Austria after the Social Democrats agreed to a call for an early poll from their conservative coalition partners.

It comes after more than a year of feuding over health, taxes, pensions and education and within a wider context of disagreement over the country’s future role in the EU.

People’s Party leader Wilhelm Molterer told reporters his party could no longer work with the Social Democrats, particularly after their call last month for a referendum on any future changes to EU treaties – dismissed by their coalition partner as a populist ploy to peg falling polls.

Speaking in Vienna, Molterer, who is also Vice Chancellor, said “enough is enough. The Social Democrats have left the common ground of government.”

Accused of poor leadership and unpopular within his own ranks, Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer has said he will not seek re-election, and recommended acting party chairman Werner Faymann for the job.

Both mainstream parties have lost popularity while in coalition since January 2007, but figures suggest the Social Democrats have fared worse.

Faymann is expected to get party approval to lead the centre-left party in the snap ballot, likely to be held in September.