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Austrian parties agree coalition

Social Democratic leader Werner Faymann (left) shakes hands with Josef Proell, head of the People's Party
The coalition deal was announced after Sunday's talks

Austria's centre-left Social Democrats and the conservative People's Party have agreed to form a coalition government, two months after elections.

Social Democratic leader Werner Faymann, whose party won most votes, is expected to become the next chancellor.

The two parties had been partners in the previous government, but fell out after 18 months in power.

The deal means neither of Austria's two far-right parties, who made big gains in the poll, will be in government.

'Good work'

The Social Democrats and the People's Party announced the deal after their talks ended on Sunday.

More than ever before, Austria needs a government that can react to the problems of our times with the right answers
Josef Proell
Head of People's Party
Mr Faymann said the agreement showed "determination in [taking] a common path for our country".

Josef Proell, the head of the People's Party, said: "I'm very pleased that after five weeks of hard work we've laid the groundwork for five years of good work for Austria."

"More than ever before, Austria needs a government that can react to the problems of our times with the right answers," Mr Proell added, referring to the global financial crisis gripping Austria.

The two leaders said the new cabinet would be announced in the coming days.

The Social Democrats won the snap parliamentary elections with 30% of the vote. But they, and the People's Party, with 26%, suffered their worst results since 1945.

Discontent

The coalition deal means that neither of the two far-right parties - the Freedom Party and the Alliance for the Future of Austria - will be included in the new government.

Joerg Haider, the  late leader of the Alliance for Austria's Future
Joerg Haider died in a car crash in October

With nearly 29% of the vote, the two parties saw their support double since the 2006 polls.

This was the result of protest votes on a variety of issues, the BBC's Bethany Bell in Vienna said.

In October, the leader of the Alliance for Austria's Future, Joerg Haider, died in a car crash.

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SEE ALSO
Haider 'was the man of my life'
23 Oct 08 |  Europe
Country profile: Austria
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