The far right won almost a third of the vote in Austria's parliamentary election on Sunday, clouding prospects for the biggest mainstream party, the Social Democrats, to forge a stable coalition government.
Austria's Social Democrats may have won the most votes in Sunday's parliamentary elections but the night belonged to the far right.
Between them, Austria's two far right parties took almost a third of the vote - the rightists' biggest showing since 2000.
Freedom Party leader, Heinz-Christian Strache called it "a beautiful victory" that put his party at the centre of Austrian politics.
(SOUNDBITE) (German) HEINZ-CHRISTIAN STRACHE, FAR-RIGHT FREEDOM PARTY FPOe CANDIDATE SAYING:
"This was a clear jump ahead and it shows that we are Austria's third most powerful party."
Joerg Haider's right-wing populist Alliance for Austria's Future almost tripled its vote, taking 11 percent.
The two centrist parties - the Social Democrats and conservative People's Party - which have defined the country's post-war political landscape slumped to their worst showing since World War Two.
The collapse of the left-right ruling coalition in July left voters angry and disillusioned with the mainstream parties.
The lurch to the right however has left some Austrians uneasy.
(SOUNDBITE) (German) JOHANN FREY, AUSTRIAN VOTER SAYING:
"I grew up during a time when a swing to the right had consequences, grave consequences."
By retaining their status as the largest single party, Werner Faymann's leftist Social Democrats will be tasked with forming a coalition government.
And there's the rub.
Feuding between the two centrist parties killed off their last alliance after only 18-months.
This time cobbling together a Grand Coalition will be even tougher - particularly if the conservatives are tempted to form an alliance with the two far-right parties - a move that could bolster the right's case for a share of power.
Helen Long, Reuters
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