Austria heads to polls after far-right corruption scandal

Former Austrian chancellor and top candidate of the Austrian People's Party, OEVP, Sebastian Kurz, center, arrives for a closing rally ahead of federal elections in Vienna, Austria, Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019.

Voting in snap parliamentary elections in Austria began on Sunday morning.

Austrians are electing a new Parliament, four months after a corruption scandal brought down ex-Chancellor Sebastian Kurz's coalition government with the far-right Freedom Party.

Some 6.4 million voters aged 16 and up are eligible to cast ballots for Sunday's election.

The Alpine country of 8.8 million has been run by a non-partisan interim administration appointed in June, after the publication of a video showing Freedom Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache appearing to offer favors to a purported Russian investor triggered the Kurz government's collapse.

Experts have predicted "whizz-kid" Kurz could once again partner up with the Freedom Party in a re-run of the coalition that has been touted by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and other nationalists as a model for all of Europe.

But fresh allegations of wrong-doing have shaken the far-right over the past week.

Prosecutors confirmed Thursday they were investigating Heinz-Christian Strache, who resigned as FPOe leader and vice-chancellor in May because of "Ibiza-gate", over fraudulent party expense claims.

Kurz, whose center-right People's Party was leading recent opinion polls, will likely have to choose whether to form a fresh coalition with a chastened Freedom Party or team up with the center-left Social Democrats.

First exit polls will be released after voting ends at 5 p.m. (1500 GMT).

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