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Austrian far-right Freedom Party official steps down after Holocaust posting

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The Freedom Party is currently campaigning in the European elections
The Freedom Party is currently campaigning in the European elections -
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REUTERS
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An official of Austria's far-right Freedom Party has stepped down after sharing material online questioning the Holocaust, the deputy mayor of a northern town said on Monday.

It is the latest in a series of embarrassing episodes for a party founded by former Nazis in the 1950s that is now part of the national government and says it has left its extremist past behind.

The deputy leader of the Freedom Party's (FPO) local branch in St Martin im Innkreis shared postings online including one questioning the Holocaust that quoted a convicted Holocaust denier, the Oberoesterreichische Nachrichten newspaper reported.

"It is unacceptable," FPO deputy mayor Franz Moser said of the postings when contacted by Reuters. "This person is no longer a member of the party or active in St Martin."

The newspaper said it had contacted the local party branch on Sunday about three social media postings by the official, whom it did not name.

A spokesman for the FPO was not immediately available for comment but a party statement on related issue included the sentence: "In the Freedom Party, as with the St Martin case, action is taken immediately."

Despite repeated cases of the party and its officials being implicated in anti-Semitic and racist incidents since it formed a coalition with Chancellor Sebastian Kurz's conservatives 18 months ago, the party has dismissed the incidents as isolated incidents.

Kurz has denounced cases without calling into question his coalition with the FPO, with which he shares a hard line on immigration. Polls show support for the FPO has slipped while that of Kurz's party is stable.

"That a deputy party leader in a district of Upper Austria can spread conspiracy theories, Holocaust denial and hate for years under their real name without it bothering anyone in the FPO shows once again that this party has a problem with right-wing extremism," the left-wing Greens said in a statement.

"Whoever forms a coalition with it ... hoists the right-wing extremism problems into the highest echelons of government."