Austria leader coy on far-right ties

Tom MarkLast Update : Tuesday 17 May 2016 - 6:44 PM
Austria leader coy on far-right ties

New Austria leader Kern won’t rule out working with far-right

  • 17 May 2016
  • From the section Europe
Austria's new chancellor Christian Kern signs the swearing-in documents as chancellor next to outgoing President Heinz FischerImage copyright AFP
Image caption Mr Kern(L) was sworn in by outgoing President Heinz Fischer on Tuesday

Austria’s new chancellor has refused to rule out co-operation with the country’s far-right Freedom Party.

But Social Democrat Christian Kern said he could not work with any group “who incite against people and minorities”.

He was sworn in on Tuesday, replacing Werner Faymann who quit after losing the support of party colleagues.

The Social Democrats (SPO) were trounced in the first round of presidential elections last month by the Freedom Party.

The vote was won by the far-right party’s candidate Norbert Hofer, who faces a run-off against the Greens’ Alexander Van der Bellen for the mostly ceremonial role.

It was the first time since World War Two that candidates from Austria’s two main parties, the centre-left SPO and the centre-right People’s Party, did not make it to the run-off.

Mr Hofer has suggested that if elected he could use his power to dismiss the government of the day under certain circumstances.

At a media conference, Mr Kern said working with the Freedom Party was possible if certain criteria were met, without specifying what they might be.

He added: “My plan is not to lead the SPO into opposition, the opposite is true.

“But at the end of the day we need an identity and for us it is absolutely unimaginable to work with parties who incite against people and minorities.”

Mr Kern, 50, is former head of Austria’s state railway and last year helped move thousands of migrants from Hungary’s border into Germany.

Source: BBC World

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