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Austrian centrist parties agree coalition


Austria's two main centrist parties said Thursday they have agreed to form another "grand coalition" government after narrowly winning a majority in their worst postwar election result on September 29.

"We now have a result that we can present to our parties," said Michael Spindelegger, head of the conservative People's Party (OeVP) in a joint press conference with Social Democrat (SPOe) Chancellor Werner Faymann.

The two parties have dominated politics since 1945, including the last government, but their popularity has been sliding for years, due in part to the rise of the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe), which came third in the election.

Details of the new coalition, which is likely to be led again by Faymann but with a new finance minister and foreign minister possible, were due to be announced on Friday.

The SPOe won on September 29 won 27 percent of the vote, down from 29 percent at the last election in 2008, while the OeVP secured 24 percent.

The anti-immigration and eurosceptic FPOe of Heinz-Christian Strache came in third place with 20.5 percent of support, an improved showing compared with 2008.

This however was short of former far-right leader Joerg Haider's record 27 percent in 1999 when he formed a coalition with the OeVP, sending shockwaves through Europe.