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Austria's Far Right Leads in Presidential Vote, Runoff Expected

  • VOA News

Norbert Hofer, right, candidate of Austria's Freedom Party, FPOE, talks to Alexander Van der Bellen, left, candidate of the Austrian Greens during the release of the first election results of the Austria presidential elections in Vienna, Austria, Sunday, April 24, 2016.

Norbert Hofer, right, candidate of Austria's Freedom Party, FPOE, talks to Alexander Van der Bellen, left, candidate of the Austrian Greens during the release of the first election results of the Austria presidential elections in Vienna, Austria, Sunday, April 24, 2016.

Exit polls show the candidate of Austria's anti-immigration far-right Freedom Party winning the first round of presidential elections, gathering more than 35 percent of the vote and leaving five rivals far behind, including nominees of the ruling governing coalition.

With more than 50 percent of the vote tallied Sunday, both candidates from the ruling coalition, center-left Social Democrat Rudolph Hundstorfer and centrist People's Party nominee Andreas Khol, were shown with about 11 percent of the vote.

The projected win by Norbert Hofer is his party's best showing since its founding in 1945 and is widely seen as reflecting rising voter alarm over Europe's migrant influx and dissatisfaction with the European Union's role in the crisis.

If the projections hold, a second round runoff will be held May 23.

Hofer would face either of the independent candidates, Green Party nominee Alexander van der Bellen or Independent Irmgard Griss, a former Supreme Court judge hoping to become Austria's first female president.

Incumbent President Heinz Fischer, a 77-year-old Social Democrat, was barred by law from seeking a third six-year term.

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