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Far-right Candidate Concedes in Austria Presidential Poll

  • VOA News

FILE - Norbert Hofer, right, candidate of Austria's Freedom Party, FPOE, talks to Alexander Van der Bellen, independent candidate, during the release of the first round of presidential election results in Vienna, Austria, April 24, 2016. Hofer conceded defeat Monday.

FILE - Norbert Hofer, right, candidate of Austria's Freedom Party, FPOE, talks to Alexander Van der Bellen, independent candidate, during the release of the first round of presidential election results in Vienna, Austria, April 24, 2016. Hofer conceded defeat Monday.

The far-right candidate in Austria's presidential election has conceded defeat.

Norbert Hofer, nominee of the euro-skeptic, anti-immigration Freedom Party, said Monday that he was "sad" he had not won, but called the work of his supporters an "investment for the future."

While the results from Sunday's vote have not yet been officially announced, Alexander Van der Bellen, a former Green Party chief running as an independent, appears to have won a significant chunk of the 90,000 absentee ballots that remained to be counted.

The two candidates were in a statistical dead heat as of late Sunday.

Sunday's faceoff came just weeks after Hofer and Van der Bellen swept aside challenges from ruling Social Democrat coalition candidates Rudolph Hundstorfer and Andreas Khol. Both Hundstorfer and Khol were routed April 24 in first round voting, with each winning about 11 percent of the vote.

A huge influx of migrants from the Middle East, Africa and South Asia into western Europe has spawned a backlash against official EU policy that initially welcomed migrants to the relative safety and prosperity of western Europe.

Sentiment began shifting as Austria took in 90,000 asylum seekers last year, while neighboring Germany opened its borders to more than one million migrants, many of them fleeing Syria's long and deadly civil war.

EU officials have since negotiated a deal with Turkey under which migrants fleeing its shores by boat for Greece will be returned to in exchange for nearly $7 billion in European aid.

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