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Austrian president: Next cabinet must honour European values

Europe
17.10.2017
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Vienna (dpa) - Austria‘s next government must respect key European principles, President Alexander Van der Bellen demanded on Tuesday, as he launched talks on a cabinet that could include far-right ministers.

Former Green party leader Van der Bellen announced that he would task 31-year-old Sebastian Kurz with forming a new government, after Kurz‘s conservative People‘s Party (OeVP) won Sunday‘s parliamentary election.

The far-right Freedom Party (FPOe) looks like the most likely coalition partner, given its strong gains on Sunday and its tough immigration stance that is very similar to that of the conservatives.

"I will watch closely to ensure that the European fundamental values inscribed in our constitution remain the compass that guides Austria into the future," Van der Bellen said.

Both rightist parties want to curb immigration from poorer eastern EU countries by cutting welfare for foreigners, despite the EU principle of free movement.

The FPOe also wants Austria to rethink its membership of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Van der Bellen added that he would scrutinize ministerial candidates before swearing them in.

Although the FPOe has been active in weeding out party members with radical views, leftist critics and political scientists have pointed out that some party officials still have ties with nationalist or extremist circles.

FPOe leader Heinz-Christian Strache participated in events organized by far-right extremists in his youth, but he has stressed that he did not share their views.

Strache reaffirmed Tuesday that his party seeks to lead the Interior Ministry in the next cabinet, claiming that the FPOe is Austria‘s "only security party."

 

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