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Social Democrats take narrow Austria win

Oct. 1, 2006 at 5:55 PM

VIENNA, Oct. 1 (UPI) -- Austrian voters gave a very narrow win to the leftist Social Democratic Party Sunday, with the ruling conservative People's Party coming in second.

The New York Times said the People's Party, led by Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel, garnered 34.2 percent in the parliamentary election, losing 8 percentage points from the 2002 total.

The Social Democrats took 35.7 percent, the Times said. That might be enough for the party's leader, Afred Gusenbauer, to replace Schuessel as chancellor in a coalition government, the report said.

The results were a surprise, the Times said, because Schuessel had been given credit for Austria's booming economy.

The far-right Alliance for Austria's Future, led by Jorg Haider, escaped extinction by pulling in 4.2 percent, just above the 4 percent needed for parliamentary representation.

The Times said Schuessel appeared to make a mistake by including the Alliance in a coalition government.

The tallies could change very slightly by Oct. 9, when more than 400,000 absentee ballots and mail-in votes will have been counted.

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