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Austria's ruling coalition feels heat from far-right in general election

Austria's ruling coalition feels heat from far-right in general election
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Austrians headed to the polls on Sunday to decide the country’s parliamentary elections. An incumbent coalition between the social democrat and conservative parties is fighting to stave off serious competition from the far right.

Opinion polls put current social democrat chancellor Weyner Freymann ahead. His social democrat SPO party is counting on having steered Austria through the economic crisis to win enough votes.

Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger leads the coalition partner People’s Party. They’ve promised to promote economic growth by opening up the markets more to businesses.

But this time the Greens – led by Eva Glawischnig – could also be a contender. If the ruling coalition doesn’t win enough votes, they may have to join forces with the Greens in order to stay in government.

Heinz Christian Strache is head of the far-right Freedom party. They are predicted to improve on their 2008 showing of 17.5% of the vote and may even overtake the OVP this time. Their anti-immigration, euro-sceptic stance has struck a chord with many Austrians, frustrated at state corruption and tax bailouts to other EU countries.

Preliminary official results are due late Sunday afternoon.

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