Austrian chancellor: Le Pen victory would hurt Europe's economy

November 20, 2016 6:33 AM EST

France's far-right National Front (FN) leader Marine Le Pen poses in front of a poster for her 2017 French presidential election campaign as she inaugurates her party campaign headquarters "L'Escale" in Paris, France, November 16, 2016. REUTERS/Charles Pl

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VIENNA (Reuters) - A French presidential victory by far-right candidate Marine le Pen would badly damage Europe's economy, Austria's Social Democrat Chancellor Christian Kern said in an interview published on Sunday.

While Le Pen will likely meet a center-right rival in a run-off vote next year, Austria will elect its own president on Dec. 4, choosing between a former leader of the Greens Party and a far-right candidate in a tightly balanced contest.

"If right wing demagogues take over a key state in the European Union, we have a big problem. One cannot overestimate the economic damage someone like Le Pen can cause," Kern said in an interview with Austrian newspaper Kurier.

"For us it would mean an enormous loss of wealth. Europe, Austria would become poorer."

Far-right presidential candidate Norbert Hofer faces Alexander Van der Bellen in Austria's vote next month.

Hofer lost a run-off in May by a mere 31,000 votes against Van der Bellen but got a new chance when the constitutional court annulled the result due to counting irregularities.

(Reporting by Shadia Nasralla; Editing by Jason Neely/Keith Weir)

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