Austria’s new chancellor spoke out against any accommodation with the resurgent far-Right as he was sworn in on Tuesday.
“For us, it is absolutely unimaginable to work with parties who incite against people and minorities,” Christian Kern told his first press conference.
Mr Kern has assumed Austria’s leadership with the country in deep political crisis, after the resignation of his long-serving predecessor, Werner Faymann.
Public support for the coalition government has collapsed, and the far-Right Freedom Party (FPÖ) looks poised to seize the ceremonial presidency in elections less than a week away.
“We want to make Austria strong again,” Mr Kern said.
The 50-year-old political outsider has been parachuted in to high office in the hope that he can turn around the government’s fortunes.
He was working as the head of the national railway company when the Social Democrat party (SPÖ) chose him as its new leader.
His most pressing task will be to find a response to the rise of the Freedom Party, which is leading in the opinion polls.
Elections are not due until 2018, but many commentators doubt the current government can survive that long.
There have been calls for the SPÖ to drop its longstanding bar on any cooperation with the far-Right party, which would open the way to a possible coalition.
But Mr Kern poured cold water on the possibility.
“My plan is not to lead the SPÖ into opposition, on the contrary, but at the end of the day we need an identity,” he said.
He said he would seek to continue the current coalition with the People’s Party (ÖVP).
Between them, the SPÖ and the ÖVP have ruled Austria since the Second World War, but support for both parties has collapsed and neither of their candidates made it through to the final round of the presidential elections.
The migrant crisis has dominated Austrian politics in recent months, after 90,000 asylum-seekers entered the country last year.
Mr Faymann was the crisis’ biggest casualty in Europe, but Mr Kern vowed to continue his controversial policy.
Austria has closed its borders and imposed limits on the number of asylum-seekers it will take, and led successfual international efforts to seal off the “Balkan Route” to migrants.
“I think you all know what challenges we had to face. We stood out ground,” Mr Kern said. “We must also do our best to treat refugees with respect.”
The once strong Austrian economy has been ailing in recent years, and he promised a “new deal” to stave off rising unemployment.
In the short term, Mr Kern will have to win the support of the ÖVP to keep the current coalition in government.
But the longer-term political future of both traditional parties may be in his hands, as he tries to arrest years of voter disaffection.
“This is our last chance, otherwise the two major parties will disappear from the scene — probably rightly,” he said.
“The task before Kern is Herculean,” Thomas Hofer, a leading Austrian political analyst, told the AFP news agency.