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Young Minister’s Conservative Party Leads Austria Vote


Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz

Ballot projections suggest Austria’s conservative People’s Party (OVP), led by 31-year-old Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, is set to win the country’s October 15 general elections.

Projections from the SORA polling organization had the OVP receiving 30.5 percent of the vote and the euroskeptic, far-right Freedom Party 25.9 percent. Both parties focused their campaigns on concerns about immigration and Islam.

The center-left Social Democrats, who campaigned on the need to reduce social inequality, were projected to come in second with 27.1 percent.

Kurz, who became OVP leader in May, forced the early election when he refused to continue in a coalition with the Social Democrats, led by incumbent Chancellor Christian Kern.

He has vowed to curb immigration in the wealthy European Union member state of 8.75 million people, cap benefit payments to refugees at a low level, and bar other foreigners from receiving benefits until they have lived in Austria for five years.

The populist and euroskeptic FPO accused Kurz of stealing its policies, with its leader, Heinz-Christian Strache, calling him an "imposter."

The center-left Social Democrats have campaigned on reducing social inequality.

If his party wins, Kurz could become the EU's youngest government leader and form an alliance with the FPO.

Based on reporting by the BBC, dpa, AP, and AFP