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Austria's interior minister Mikl-Leitner steps down in party reshuffle

Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner has stepped down in a party reshuffle that will place her in provincial government. She is known for her tough asylum policies.

Mikl-Leitner will take up the post of deputy governor of her home state of Lower Austria, a position currently held by Wolfgang Sobotka (right) who will replace her.

Both are members of Austria's People's Party (ÖVP), which is part of a broad ruling coalition with the Social Democrats.

Austrian Vice Chancellor Reinhold Mitterlehner, who heads the party, made the announcement after the swap was approved by the party leadership.

"Now that we have the decision of the party leadership, we will clear it with the president and of course with the chancellor," Mitterlehner said.

He added the swap would likely take place within two weeks.

According to the newspaper "Tiroler Tageszeitung," Mikl-Leitner will be groomed to succeed the current governor of Lower Austria, Erwin Pröll.

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The 52-year-old Mikl-Leitner left a government position in Lower Austria to become interior minister in 2011, a position she intended to take for three years that stretched into a five year stint.

She is known for her tough stance on migration, having overseen tighter border controls and stricter asylum rules, including

a cap on asylum applications and migrant arrivals

in Austria.

Mikl-Leitner has recently prepared to implement

tougher controls at Austria's Brenner Pass

crossing with Italy, in case large numbers of migrants arrive there after the main Balkan migrant route was closed.

"In a few days, I will be done with what's probably the most difficult job in this republic and I will look forward to the most beautiful job," she said in Vienna.

The conservative politician shared her firm position on asylum seekers with Austrian Defense Minister Hans Peter Doskozil, a member of the co-governing Social Democrats. He has increasingly shared the spotlight with her when it comes to the migration issue.

Wolfgang Sobotka's appointment as interior minister is not expected to bring about any significant changes in

Austria's refugee policy.

cw/bw (dpa, Reuters)

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