Alexander Van der Bellen wins Austrian presidential election

The independent leftist beats far-right candidate Norbert Hofer in the Austrian presidential elections.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Presidential candidates Norbert Hofer of the Freedom Party (FPOe) and Alexander Van der Bellen (L) who is supported by the Greens party, take part in a TV debate after the Austrian presidential election in Vienna, Austria, May 22, 2016.

Independent candidate Alexander Van der Bellen wins Austria’s cliffhanger elections, although the far-right candidate Norbert Hofer had been leading with a narrow margin.

Sunday’s presidential election was resolved by hundreds of thousands of postal ballots as the candidates were going head-to-head until the last minute.

Anti-immigration candidate Hofer conceded defeat after the elections results came in.

Via his Facebook page, Hofer said, "Of course I am sad today. I would have liked to take care of our wonderful country for you as president."

Austria's presidency is a largely ceremonial role but with important powers such as the ability to dismiss the cabinet.

Austria is a relatively prosperous country with low unemployment but it has been at the centre of a record influx of refugees from the Middle East and resentment towards the two centrist parties that have dominated politics since the end of World War Two has grown.

TRTWorld, Reuters