Austrian far-right leader wants vote on exiting euro-report

VIENNA Wed Jan 23, 2013 1:52pm EST

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VIENNA Jan 23 (Reuters) - The leader of Austria's far-right Freedom Party (FPO) has called for a referendum on whether the country should give up the euro currency and said leaving the European Union was a possibility, according to an interview in Oesterreich newspaper.

Saying he was inspired by British Prime Minister David Cameron's promise of a referendum on whether to leave the European Union, FPO head Heinz-Christian Strache said this was just the kind of direct democracy Austria needed as well.

"If the EU develops into a centralised super-state then the final consequence for Austria would be an EU exit. I would rather have an alliance with Switzerland," Strache said.

"It would make sense to have a referendum on a euro exit," he said in comments released before publication on Thursday.

Strache, whose opposition party has consistently scored more than 20 percent in opinion polls in the run-up to parliamentary elections due by September, has long been a eurosceptic.

He has opposed bailouts of struggling countries in the currency bloc, and proposed splitting the euro zone into two camps: economically stronger northern European countries and weaker ones on the periphery.

Billionaire auto parts magnate Frank Stronach, whose new party gets around 10 percent support in polls, is another vociferous critic of the euro.

But the governing coalition of centre-left Social Democrats and the centre-right People's Party is staunchly pro-Europe.

Opinion polls show most Austrians are glad their export-dependent economy uses the euro, but a minority of about a third think adopting the euro was a mistake.

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