VIENNA – The new government of Austria, a coalition formed by the conservative People’s Party (ÖVP) and the far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ), was sworn in on Monday amid protests in the capital city of Vienna.
In front of the president, the former Green party leader Alexander van der Bellen, the 16 members of the new cabinet took their seats, including new Chancellor Sebastian Kurz of the ÖVP.
In the Oct. 15 legislative elections, the ÖVP had won 31.5 percent of the vote and Kurz was tasked with forming a government, which led him to forge a coalition with the FPÖ, a party known for its xenophobic, nationalist and euroskeptic views that had been backed by 26 percent of the electorate.
The entrance of the far-right party into government was met with demonstrations in Vienna, where some 3,500 people gathered to protest outside the presidential palace.
In a speech during the ceremony, Van der Bellen said he was aware that many people in the country saw the new government’s plans positively, while many others were skeptical or rejected them.
However, he insisted that despite his political differences with the ruling parties, they had all managed to agree on several important points, such as the continuation of Austria’s foreign policies, its continuation within the European Union and enshrining rights and liberties as fundamental values.
Kurz and FPÖ leader Heinz-Christian Strache had announced on Friday that they had formed an agreement to rule together for five years.
Of the 16 new cabinet members, nine are from the FPÖ, including foreign minister Karin Kneissl, interior minister Herbert Kickl and defense minister Mario Kunasek.