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Austria's conservative, far-right parties strike coalition deal

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Austria's conservative, far-right parties strike coalition deal

Austria's far-right Freedom Party has signed a coalition deal with the conservative People's Party and will join the government in the week of Dec. 18, the Financial Times reported. Under the arrangement, the Freedom Party will take over of the country's defense, interior and foreign ministries while its leader, Heinz-Christian Strache, becomes vice chancellor.

The coalition government could lead to measures including tighter immigration controls, a cut in the share of income and social security taxes to 40% of economic output from 43%, and looser labor laws, observers said. But the party has backed away from calls for a Brexit-style referendum on leaving the EU.

Sebastian Kurz, the leader of the People's Party, won Austria's national elections in October and, at 31, is set to become the world's youngest head of government. Kurz campaigned on a platform that took a hard-line stance on migration, promising to cut refugee benefits and restrict foreign worker access to Austria.

Meanwhile, Kurz named Hartwig Löger to be Austria's next finance minister. Löger is CEO of UNIQA Insurance Group AG unit Uniqa Osterreich Versicherungen AG.