Europe

Austrian state railways head likely new chancellor

  • FILE -In this Feb. 10, 2016 file picture CEO of OeBB holding, the Austrian railway company, Christian Kern speaks  during an interview with The Associated Press in Vienna, Austria. Kern is a  likely candidate to replace   Austrian chancellor Werner Faymann who resigned  Monday , German and Austrian media reported Thursday May 12, 2016.  (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)

    FILE -In this Feb. 10, 2016 file picture CEO of OeBB holding, the Austrian railway company, Christian Kern speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Vienna, Austria. Kern is a likely candidate to replace Austrian chancellor Werner Faymann who resigned Monday , German and Austrian media reported Thursday May 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Feb. 10, 2016 file picture, CEO of OeBB holding, the Austrian railway company, Christian Kern speaks  during an interview with The Associated Press in Vienna.  Kern is a  likely candidate to replace   Austrian chancellor Werner Faymann who resigned  Monday , German and Austrian media reported Thursday May 12, 2016.  (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)(AP Photo/Ronald Zak)

    FILE - In this Feb. 10, 2016 file picture, CEO of OeBB holding, the Austrian railway company, Christian Kern speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Vienna. Kern is a likely candidate to replace Austrian chancellor Werner Faymann who resigned Monday , German and Austrian media reported Thursday May 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)(AP Photo/Ronald Zak)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE -In this Feb. 10, 2016 file picture CEO of OeBB holding, the Austrian railway company, Christian Kern speaks  during an interview with The Associated Press in Vienna, Austria. Kern is a  likely candidate to replace   Austrian chancellor Werner Faymann who resigned  Monday , German and Austrian media reported Thursday May 12, 2016.  (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)

    FILE -In this Feb. 10, 2016 file picture CEO of OeBB holding, the Austrian railway company, Christian Kern speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Vienna, Austria. Kern is a likely candidate to replace Austrian chancellor Werner Faymann who resigned Monday , German and Austrian media reported Thursday May 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)  (The Associated Press)

The head of Austria's state railways has been overwhelmingly endorsed by his party as the country's next chancellor ahead of a meeting that will formally nominate a candidate.

That meeting is scheduled for Friday. But by Thursday, Social Democrats from eight of Austria's nine provinces announced their backing for railways head Christian Kern, while another potential candidate announced he was out of the running.

Werner Faymann, Austria's previous leader, bowed out earlier this week, leaving the Social Democrats smarting from a string of electoral losses to the right-wing Freedom Party and split between proponents and opponents of Faymann's hard-liner migrant policies.

The Social Democrats share the government coalition with the centrist People's Party. That party has signaled that it will accept only a Faymann replacement who backs tough migrant restrictions.