Prague, Dec 5 (CTK) – The victory of Alexander Van der Bellen in the Austrian presidential election is good news for the relations between Austria and the Czech Republic, the relations in Central Europe and the functioning of the European Union, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka told journalists yesterday.
Van der Bellen was an unaffiliated candidate supported by the Greens. He defeated Norbert Hofer, from the far-right Austrian Freedom Party (FPO), in the repeated second round runoff held on December 4. The presidential election was held in spring, but the second round, in which Van der Bellen narrowly beat Hofer, was annulled due to mistakes in the counting of votes.
Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) said he is glad Hofer did not win.
“A president with a clear pro-European orientation has been elected. If nationalists and populists of the kind we could see in Austria had been more and more successful, it would have caused increasing problems in the neighbourly relations and the practical operation of the EU,” Sobotka said.
Referring to Brexit and the U.S. presidential election, Czech Defence Minister Martin Stropnicky (ANO) said Austrian voters might have wished to compensate the results of elections in other countries.
He said the Austrian result is positive for the development of both Europe and the Czech Republic.
Sobotka said the end of Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is unfortunate, however, the Italian referendum related to domestic rather than European affairs.
“It is not an issue that concerns the whole EU. We should not turn it into an issue of the whole EU now,” he said. He dismissed the idea that another European crisis was coming and warned against panicking.
After the Italians rejected a proposed constitutional reform in a referendum on Sunday, Renzi said he would give up the post of prime minister
Sobotka said he believes the new Italian cabinet will remain open to European cooperation.