Social Democrats choose railway chief Kern as new Austrian chancellor

Austria's Social Democrats have chosen national railway chief Christian Kern to succeed Werner Faymann as the next chancellor and party chief, interim party leader Michael Haeupl said Friday.

"A decision has been made," Vienna's mayor Haeupl said on the sidelines of a meeting of party leaders.

Party executives would take a formal decision only on Tuesday, he added.

Kern, the chief executive of Austrian Federal Railways, is expected to be sworn in by President Heinz Fischer on Wednesday, and to address parliament on the same day.

Haeupl said he expects the new chancellor to reunite the party.

The Social Democrats are split along those who favour Austria's current tough immigration stance and those who want a more humane policy.

At the same time, the party does not have a clear strategy for countering the far-right Freedom Party, which has led opinion polls for the past year.

Faymann stepped down because of these internal disputes, and because job data and economic growth had worsened under his tenure.

Last update: Fri, 13/05/2016 - 13:44

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