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Ferrero-Waldner Austrian candidacy gains

April 23, 2004 at 2:23 PM

VIENNA, April 23 (UPI) -- Austrian presidential candidate Benita Ferrero-Waldner has won the support of majorities of both important conservative parties.

Ferrero-Waldner's candidacy is building much more strongly than had been expected and winning widespread support from Joerg Haider's far-right Freedom Party, Die Presse reports.

Haider did not officially endorse Ferrero-Waldner, but he has said publicly he will vote for her, even though he has said in the past women should occupy themselves primarily with mothering and homemaking.

Haider's statement makes it clear Ferroro-Waldner will run as a de facto coalition candidate of the conservative Austrian People's Party and the populist Freedom Party.

Her opponent, Heinz Fischer is himself a social democrat, but is running a largely non-partisan campaign.

Haider has criticized Fischer strongly for working to exclude the Freedom Party from Austrian political debate, but some Freedom Party members are expected to vote for Fischer anyway.

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