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Austria's migration hardliner Johanna Mikl-Leitner set to change jobs

Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner is to step down as part of a party reshuffle, according to Austrian media. She is known for her tough asylum policies.

Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner would become deputy governor of her home state of Lower Austria, the Austrian news agency APA reported on Saturday. APA added that the present incumbent, Wolfgang Sobotka, would take over as interior minister.

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

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

It is not clear when the swap will take place, but the reshuffle was likely to be confirmed on Sunday at a meeting of the Austrian People's Party, media reported.

"It's no secret that the minister's heart pulls her back to Lower Austria," the interior minister's spokesman, Hermann Muhr, told AFP, refusing to comment further on the reports.

The 52-year-old Mikl-Leitner took office in 2011. She is known for her tough stance on migration, having overseen tougher border controls and strict asylum rules, including a cap on migrant numbers in Austria.

Mikl-Leitner has also overseen preparations for

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

.

The conservative politician shared her tough stance 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.

das/rc (AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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