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Austria set for world's youngest leader amid shift to the right

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By Emma Beswick
Austria set for world's youngest leader amid shift to the right

Sebastian Kurz is set to become the world’s youngest national leader with his People’s Party (ÖVP) on course to win Austria’s snap general election.

Final exit-poll results for Sunday’s election, widely seen as the latest barometer of right-wing populist politics in Europe, put ÖVP in the lead with 31.4 percent of the votes.

Leaders of the outgoing coalition, the Social Democrats (SPÖ), were on 26.7 percent, neck and neck with the far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ) who had 27.4 percent.

Postal votes were yet to be counted with the final result set to be announced on Thursday (October 19).

President Alexander Van der Bellen said in a national TV interview that Kurz’s ÖVP was set to win, but he would wait until Thursday’s official result to invite the party with a majority to form a coalition.

Current chancellor of Austria, Christian Kern, said he would not step down as SPÖ party leader, as preliminary results left him vying for second place against the far-right FPÖ.

In Austria’s live election show Kern said he thinks that Kurz’s ÖVP party will form a coalition with the Freedom Party.

The chancellor said he was “more or less sure” the alliance would take place due to shared policies between the two parties.

Here’s how events unfolded