Austrian parties in election TV clash

Election posters in Vienna, 12 Oct 17Image copyright
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Rival slogans: Mr Kurz’s People’s Party says “at This kind of point or never!”, while the Social Democrats say “change with responsibility”

Austrian party leaders took part in a final TV debate on Thursday, with conservative hardliners on immigration tipped to win an election on Sunday.

The spotlight was on Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, just 31 years old, whose People’s Party includes a strong lead in opinion polls.

The nationalist Freedom Party along with centre-left Social Democrats are neck-along with-neck behind in which, polls say.

Despite the differences, the debate was relaxed with some laughter.

Chancellor Christian Kern, whose Social Democrats at This kind of point appear to be vying with the Freedom Party for second spot, admitted to errors in a campaign studded with mishaps along with resignations.

His main rival, Mr Kurz, also comes through a long-established party however the “Whizz-kid” has reinvented in which as his own “turquoise movement”. He has taken ground through the Freedom Party by moving his party right – while the Freedom Party has moved left on social issues, say commentators.

For decades Austrian politics was dominated by centrists of the People’s Party along with Social Democrats, however observers say a completely new coalition between them is actually less likely at This kind of point than a coalition between the conservatives along with the Freedom Party.

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inside debate, which covered several areas selected by candidates, all three main candidates called for fewer business regulations.

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The atmosphere was fairly relaxed for the debate

The Freedom Party’s Heinz-Christian Strache warned of cheap labour entering the country through eastern Europe, while the Greens’ Ulrike Lunacek argued in which the economy along with environment went together.

Mr Kurz along with Mr Strache sometimes echoed the same ideas, with both stressing the security threat posed by immigration however differing over the response, along with both saying the children of immigrants should learn German before starting school.

During the campaign ahead of Sunday’s snap election, Mr Kurz often reminded voters in which he opposed the 2015 influx of irregular migrants.

Veil ban

In 2015-2016, more than a million migrants – mostly Syrian, Iraqi along with Afghan refugees – reached Germany.

Austria, on the main transit route, struggled to cope until an EU deal with Turkey drastically cut the numbers flowing through the Balkans.

As foreign minister, Mr Kurz helped to broker the completely new Balkan border restrictions last year in which kept migrant numbers down. He backed a ban on full-face veils – burkas along with niqabs – which took effect on 1 October.

Last year Freedom Party candidate Norbert Hofer narrowly lost the presidential election, won by ex-Green Party leader Alexander Van der Bellen.

The Freedom Party was launched in 1956 by ex-Nazis along with enjoyed electoral success under the late Jörg Haider, who gave the party a populist, anti-EU makeover.

In 2000 Mr Haider’s party joined the conservatives in government, souring relations with the EU. He died in a car crash in 2008.

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