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Austrian ruling coalition scrapes majority: exit polls


Austria's two main centrist political parties scraped together a majority in elections Sunday, exit polls showed, enough for their coalition to continue but with the far-right a close third.

In their worst result since 1945, the Social Democrats (SPOe) won 27 percent, down from 29.3 percent at the last election in 2008, while the conservative People's Party (OeVP) fell to 23 percent from 26 percent.

The anti-immigration and eurosceptic Freedom Party (FPOe) was only one point behind on 22 percent, up from 17.5 percent in 2008 but short of Joerg Haider's record 27 percent in 1999.

Two new parties also look set to enter parliament: 81-year-old Austro-Canadian billionaire Frank Stronach's Team Stronach with 6.0 percent, and the liberal New Austria (NEOS) winning 4.5 percent, the exit polls showed.

Falling short of the four percent needed to win seats was the Alliance for Austria's Future (BZOe), founded by Haider in 2005 when he split from the Freedom Party. It won just 3.5 percent compared with 10.7 percent in 2008 just before Haider's death.

The ecologist Greens won 12.5 percent, up from 10.4 percent: their best ever result but still below expectations.

If the results are confirmed there will be little alternative but for Chancellor Werner Faymann of the SPOe to continue his "grand coalition" with the People's Party, with no other conceivable coalition having a majority.