GUE/NGL President Gabi Zimmer has warmly welcomed the election of Alexander Van der Bellen as Austria’s new president.

Independent candidate Mr Van der Bellen narrowly defeated Norbert Hofer of the far-right Freedom Party in a campaign dominated by the 2015 refugee crisis.

The election also marked the end of an era in Austrian politics dominated by the two main centrist parties.

Despite Mr Van der Bellen’s victory, Zimmer says the closely-fought race would have severe consequences for the EU and has expressed worry about the direction of the union.

“Voters rejected the two main centrist parties which have long governed Austria in the first round. This presidential election has shown us the roots of mistrust that voters across the continent have for the establishment and the established parties – not just in Austria but also in other EU member states.”

“The EU should be a project of its people – not of the elite or the banks,” she continued. “It should be about solidarity and it is the responsibility of the main actors to bring about changes to the style of government and that is the only chance the European Union has in winning people’s trust again.”

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