Austrian chancellor resigns after far-right election win

Austrian-chancellor-resigns-after-far-right-election-win.   VIENNA,  Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann resigned on Monday after his Social Democratic Party suffered a crushing defeat in the first round of the presidential election.

Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann, who has served as chancellor since 2008, resigned on Monday — citing loss of support from his Social Democratic Party. His party did not get enough votes to make it to a run-off in the scond round of the presidential election scheduled later this month. Photo courtesy of Werner Faymann

















Faymann’s party, also known as SPO, lost the preliminary vote last month to far-right Freedom Party candidate Norbert Hofer, which led the vote, and to The Greens party candidate Alexander Van der Bellen.

A run-off vote between Hofer and Van der Bellen is scheduled for May 22. For the first time since the Second World War, Austria’s two main parties, the Social Democrats and the People’s Party, failed to get enough votes to go to the run-off election.

“I’m stepping down from my role as chancellor and SPO leader,” Faymann, 56, said Monday. “I’m firmly convinced that this country is strong enough to face the challenges of the future.”

In his outgoing statement, Faymann mentioned the difficulties of reducing unemployment, increasing social cohesion and dealing with the European migrant crisis. He said that although he had the support of the majority of his party, he said it was not enough to keep his post.

Faymann, chancellor since 2008, was criticized earlier this year for yielding to pressure from a conservative coalition that sought to limit the number of people allowed to claim asylum in Austria. About 90,000 people reached Austria to claim asylum in 2015.

In a Facebook post, Faymann said it was an honor to have served as chancellor and said he was proud of the Austria he led through an economic crisis.

By Andrew V. Pestano