Austrian political leaders urge new president to establish unity

Austrian political and religious leaders have called on the newly-elected president Alexander Van der Bellen to make efforts to unite the country following a closest-ever presidential election race that concluded Monday.

In a statement to congratulate Van der Bellen after the election result became clear on Monday, outgoing president Heinz Fischer also noted the need to unite and represent all Austrians, especially given the contrasting nature of views.

Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern also congratulated Van der Bellen in a statement, in which he noted the open, pro-European nature of the former Greens leader, and also acknowledged the strong polling of the far-right Freedom Party represented a form of protest.

These fears and concerns among the populace can not simply be wished away, and the political structure must be oriented in such a way that all people feel represented, he said.

Vice-Chancellor Reinhold Mitterlehner said a “certain polarization” was evident in the result of the election, meaning that more togetherness must be sought.

Various other members of the governing coalition party echoed similar sentiments on Monday, including People’s Party party whip Reinhold Lopatka, who said Van der Bellen’s role is as “connector” to unite rather than separate. (Xinhua)