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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,

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,

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

Norbert Hofer, who ran on an anti-immigrant and anti-Europe platform, won 36.4 percent of the vote and will face off against an independent, former member of the Green Party Alexander van der Bellen, in next month's run-off election.

It was the best result the Freedom Party has seen in a national election, its campaign focused primarily on the impact of the migrant crisis and the 100,000 asylum seekers that have arrived in Austria since last summer.

Both candidates from the ruling coalition, center-left Social Democrat Rudolph Hundstorfer and centrist People's Party nominee Andreas Khol, each received about 11 percent of the vote.

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

Around 70 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in the election, which was about a 20 percent increase over turnout six years ago when Fischer was elected to his second term.

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