European Parliament President Martin Schulz has warned against a Freedom Party of Austria (FPO) victory in the country’s upcoming presidential election, claiming the “vast majority” of people do not want national borders.
The Europhile German Social Democratic Party (SPD) politician stated that if the populist, anti-mass migration Norbert Hofer becomes president “this will change Europe’s character”.
Last month Hofer came top in the first round of the Austrian elections, and in just two weeks voters will go to the polls for the second round, to choose between the right wing FPO figure and his Green rival Alexander Van der Bellen as the nation’s next head of state.
Die Presse reported that, speaking with Italian radio station RAI 3, Mr. Schultz said he believes the vast majority of people in Europe “do not want” the change he believes electing an anti-mass migration president would bring.
He added that this “silent majority”, who also apparently oppose national borders, should mobilise against the FPO “for Europe”.
In a press release, General Secretary of the FPO Herbert Kickl, rejected Schulz’ “interference” in the Austrian elections, calling it “totally inappropriate”.
Mr. Schulz’ comments came soon after Jean-Claude Juncker slammed elected leaders of European Union (EU) countries for listening too much to voters rather than focusing on being “full time Europeans”.
The Telegraph reported that the European Commission president blasted Britain’s Prime Minister, David Cameron, for not speaking about Europe “in the proper way” and instead discussing the EU in terms of national interests.
“If you are listening to your national opinion you are not developing what should be a common European sense and a feeling of the need to put together efforts. We have too many part-time Europeans,” the former prime minister of Luxembourg told the audience at Rome’s Capitolini Museum.
The latest Gallup poll looking to the upcoming presidential election shows Hofer and Van der Bellen are currently neck and neck.
The pollster says if the election was held straight away, Hofer would win, receiving 43 per cent of the vote to Van der Bellen’s 42 per cent, but that the Green candidate will likely be able to draw more support than Hofer from the remaining 15 per cent who classified themselves under “don’t know”.