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Center-left wins Vienna election, no comeback for Strache

October 12, 2020 GMT
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Vienna Mayor Michael Ludwig from the Social Democrats, SPOE, waves at the start of a TV debate for local elections in Vienna, Austria, Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020. Citizens in Vienna cast their votes Sunday to elect the mayor of the Austrian capital. Polls see the incumbent mayor Michael Ludwig of the Social Democratic Party of Austria in the lead. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)
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Vienna Mayor Michael Ludwig from the Social Democrats, SPOE, waves at the start of a TV debate for local elections in Vienna, Austria, Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020. Citizens in Vienna cast their votes Sunday to elect the mayor of the Austrian capital. Polls see the incumbent mayor Michael Ludwig of the Social Democratic Party of Austria in the lead. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)

BERLIN (AP) — Austria’s main center-left party has won a regional election in Vienna that saw the far-right Freedom Party lose more than two-thirds of its support and its former leader, Heinz-Christian Strache, apparently fail to make a political comeback.

Preliminary final results from Sunday’s election, including an estimate of postal votes that have yet to be counted, showed the center-left Social Democrats winning more than 42% of the vote, making slight gains and cementing Mayor Michael Ludwig’s position, the Austria Press Agency reported.

The party is in opposition nationally to a coalition of Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s conservative Austrian People’s Party and the Greens, which both moved up, to around 19% and over 13% respectively.

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The Freedom Party, Kurz’s former partner in a national government that collapsed in a scandal last year, saw its support collapse from just over 30% to around 8%.

In May 2019, a video showing then-Freedom Party leader Strache offering favors to a purported Russian investor prompted Kurz to pull the plug on the national government. Strache, who denied any wrongdoing, was later kicked out of the Freedom Party.

Strache ran in the Vienna election with a new party, Team HC Strache, but the preliminary results showed it polling 4% at most — falling short of the 5% needed to win seats in the local legislature.