Austrian far-right leader cast vote in legislative election

Top candidate of Peoples Party and Foreign Minister Sebastan Kurz arrives in front of his party's headquarters in Vienna Austria

Though absentee and mail ballots have yet to be counted, the projections suggest that the anti-immigration Freedom Party will return to government in Austria for the first time since 2005 and a decade of Social Democratic rule will end. While no expects a repeat of the European Union sanctions slapped on Austria because of the party's participation, critics of the Freedom Party in and outside Austria have expressed alarm at any government role for the euroskeptic party.

More than 6.4 million Austrians were eligible to vote. But less than a dozen parties have a chance of getting seats.

The 2015 influx of hundreds of thousands of people fleeing the war in Syria and poverty elsewhere into the European Union's (EU) prosperous heartland left Austria with almost 100,000 new migrants. That has fueled fears Austria's traditional Western and Christian culture is in danger. With a handful of other parties struggling to just get into parliament, the most likely post-vote scenario is a People's Party-Freedom Party coalition that would shift the government significantly to the right. Social Democratic Chancellor Christian Kern acknowledged as much, saying Sunday's results reflected "a push to the right".

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"Europe in general and Austria in particular should know all too well where acceptance of populist and pernicious ideologies leads", Kantor said. "The others only care about the people with bigger salaries, and bigger companies, and not about regular people".

Mr Kurz, greeting supporters as he cast his vote, said he hoped for "a good result, so that real change can be possible". "It has proven to be less dramatic than anticipated".

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