Austrian leaders hold first debate ahead of October election

Source: Xinhua| 2017-09-16 02:37:55|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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VIENNA, Sept. 15 (Xinhua) -- The leaders of Austria's three major political parties have met for their first televised debate in Linz on Friday, marking a ramping up of campaigning ahead of the Oct. 15 election.

In front of an audience of about 1,000 people, and with local and international media present, current chancellor Christian Kern of the Social Democrats, candidate for the centre-right People's Party, and current frontrunner Sebastian Kurz, and leader of the far-right Freedom Party Heinz-Christian Strache addressed various issues presently prominent in the media.

These included the ongoing refugee crisis in particular, as well as potential coalition groupings, and the situation in the employment and education sectors.

Kern acknowledged the mistakes made by the government in 2015, at which time he was not yet chancellor, in allowing refugees to stream into the country uncontrolled. While Austria has helped significantly, illegal migration should now be kept to zero, he said.

Kurz reiterated his stance of offering aid in affected countries, but said this would not be enough given the high birth rates in many African states, which must also be tackled.

Strache for his part said migrants should be provided with non-cash benefits rather than monetary entitlements, in order to reduce the number of economic migrants.