Austria: Chancellor plans 'New Deal' for dissatisfied voters | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Austria: Chancellor plans 'New Deal' for dissatisfied voters

New Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern and Vice Chancellor Reinhold Mitterlehner, from left, attend an inauguration ceremony of four new ministers at the Hofburg palace in Vienna, Austria, Wednesday, May 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)
May 19, 2016 - 11:32 AM

VIENNA - Austria's new chancellor acknowledged Thursday that citizens are fed up with a government they view as standing still, and pledged to offer a "New Deal" in unsparing efforts to meet their expectations.

Christian Kern also indirectly criticized the right-wing, Euroskeptic Freedom Party, which is exploiting disillusionment to surge in popularity at the expense of his Social Democrats and the centrist People's Party that form the government coalition.

He promised to work for "politics of hope in the future" contrasting it to the "chauvinism and incitement against minorities" now present in the political landscape.

The former head of Austria's state railways was sworn in Wednesday, just a few days after Social Democrat Werner Faymann stepped down, leaving his party fractured and directionless over migrant policies and other key issues preoccupying many Austrians.

"It is no longer clear where we want to lead our nation," said Kern in his inaugural address to parliament, pledging to "move things in the right direction with every fiber of our will."

He urged the People's Party to join in developing a "New Deal" including greater state and private investment to reduce unemployment and kickstart consumer spending. At the same time, he called for maintaining what is one of the EU's most developed social welfare safety nets.

The government shifted this year from a policy of open borders to one of the EU's most restrictive asylum regimes. That led to a revolt within the party that contributed to Faymann's decision to step down.

Kern has signalled that he wants to walk a fine line between more humane treatment of refugees and Faymann's position.

Freedom Party candidate Norbert Hofer is leading in polls for Sunday's presidential election runoff against a Greens Party rival running as an independent. The presidency has been held by either Social Democratic or People's Party nominees since World War II, but those parties' candidates were drubbed and eliminated in the first round.

News from © The Associated Press, 2016
The Associated Press

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