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Austria’s Chancellor Kurz wins re-election as head of conservatives

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Vienna (dpa) – Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz was re-elected on Saturday as head of the conservative Austrian People’s Party (OeVP) for his tough stance on immigration.

Kurz was the sole and uncontested candidate for the top job at the party’s conference and won comfortably with 99.4 per cent of the votes, slightly more than the 98.7 per cent of the vote he got when he was first elected leader of the party in 2017.

In his party conference speech, the 35-year-old claimed he had been a target of abuse by the political opposition and styled himself as an opponent of migration and an advocate of strong policies enforcing integration.

Kurz addressed an ongoing investigation against him for possibly false testimony he allegedly gave before the parliamentary committee of enquiry on corruption.

He said the charges were the result of an increasingly aggressive opposition. There had been days when he had “questioned everything” he said, adding: “The experience has actually made me more resilient. It has made me stronger, and it has made me even more determined.”

In his speech, Kurz committed the Austrian People’s Party to a highly restrictive migration policy. “For a democracy, it is crucial who lives here and what people believe in,” he said.

Kurz stressed that no more people should be taken in than can be integrated, and has recently spoken out against granting protection to refugees from Afghanistan,

The OeVP’s stance on migration, and its refusal to accept Afghan refugees, has led to increasing tensions with its coalition partner, the Greens.

dpa