Austria election produces likely right turn

VIENNA (AP) — Austria’s 31-year-old foreign minister declared victory for his party Sunday in a national election that set him up to become Europe’s youngest leader and puts the country on course for a rightward turn.

Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz claimed the win as final results announced by the Interior Ministry showed his People’s Party had a comfortable lead with almost all the ballots counted.

Noting that his center-right party had triumphed over the rival Social Democrats only twice since the end of World War II, Kurz called it a “historic victory.”

“Today is not the day of triumph over others, but today is our chance for real change in this country,” he told cheering supporters.

Still to be counted are more than 800,000 absentee ballots and ones cast by voters outside of their home districts. The outstanding votes are due to be tallied by mid-week.

However, the votes counted so far show that Austria, where moderate policies have been the norm for decades, will have a government with a harder line on migration and Muslims than one running the country now.

Both Kurz’s party and the right-wing Freedom Party — Kurz’s most likely government coalition partner — campaigned on the need for tougher immigration controls, quickly deporting asylum-seekers whose requests are denied and cracking down on radical Islam.