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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 October, 2003, 10:42 GMT 11:42 UK
Austria hails Arnie victory
Election party in Graz bar
Graz partygoers have been cheering Arnie on
People across Austria have been celebrating local boy Arnold Schwarzenegger's victory in California's elections.

The result, which was covered live on Austrian TV, delighted residents of his home region of Styria.

Politicians of all colours saluted his success and expressed the hope that he would boost Austria's image in America.

Mr Schwarzenegger's meteoric body-building, Hollywood and political careers followed humble beginnings in his native country, which he left 35 years ago.

The new governor has dual Austrian and US citizenship.

'Totally excited'

Residents of the Styrian capital, Graz, breakfasting on scrambled eggs and coffee in a local bar, broke into cheers as the new governor's speech was broadcast live.

Perhaps Americans might now stop mixing Austria up with Australia
Dieter Hardt-Stremayr
Graz tourist office
And in Mr Schwarzenegger's home town of Thal, mayor Peter Urdl, a social democrat, raised a glass of champagne to his former fellow school pupil.

"I can barely find the words. It is really super," he told Reuters news agency. "We are all sitting in front of the television and are totally excited."

Schoolfriend Josef Heinzl dismissed allegations that Mr Schwarzenegger had groped women on film sets.

"I have no doubt that he'll be one of the best governors California has ever had," he said. "He's a good man, a family man, and he stands for the people, not just for business alone."

'Busy line'

"His only flaw is that he is a Republican," joked restaurant owner Karl Kling, who also grew up with Mr Schwarzenegger.

Now the sun will never set on Austria - when the sun goes down over Austria, it will be rising over Sacramento
Waltraud Klasnic
Styria governor
Local tourist officials were also pleased by the result.

"Mozart is no longer the world's most famous Austrian," Dieter Hardt-Stremayr of Graz tourist office told AFP news agency.

"Perhaps Americans might now stop mixing Austria up with Australia."

Mr Schwarzenegger still has family in Austria, though cousin Monika Ficszko told Austrian TV she had been unable to congratulate him.

"I have his mobile number but I can't get through," she said. "The line's always busy."

'Brilliant victory'

Praise of Mr Schwarzenegger also came from the country's top politicians.

"Austria congratulates you on this brilliant victory," said Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel.

"His success - first in sports, then professionally and now in politics - demonstrate to America and the world how good Austrians are," said Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner.

Styria governor Waltraud Klasnic said Austria could only benefit from American interest in Mr Schwarzenegger's roots.

"Now the sun will never set on Austria," she said. "When the sun goes down over Austria, it will be rising over Sacramento."

Joerg Haider, far-right governor of Carinthia province, also congratulated Mr Schwarzenegger.

"His victory is a distinction which will boost Austria in the United States," he said.

The BBC's Matt Prodger
"Bodybuilder, Terminator and now governor of the biggest of the states"

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