Austrian far-right presidential candidate going to run-off

Austrian far-right Freedom Party candidate Norbert Hofer heading to presidential election run-off after taking over 36 percent of votes

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Presidential candidate Norbert Hofer (R) and head of the Austrian Freedom party Heinz-Christian Strache (L) react at the party headquarter in Vienna, Austria, April 24, 2016.

The candidate for Austria's far-right Freedom Party has won more than 36 percent of votes cast in Sunday's presidential election, according to first projections from public broadcaster ORF, the party's best result ever in national elections.

Norbert Hofer, who ran on an anti-immigrant and anti-Europe platform, will now face a run-off against either of the independent candidates Alexander van der Bellen, and former Supreme Court Irmgard Griss.

Van der Bellen, a Green Party veteran, and Griss were neck-and-neck in the first projections, having won nearly 20 percent and nearly 19 percent of votes respectively. For an all-out win a candidate must obtain more than 50 percent of votes.

Griss would be Austria's first female president.

This election breaks Austria's postwar tradition of having either a candidate from the centre-left Social Democrats or the conservative People's Party to fill the job as head of state. This change could shake the foundation of the two parties' long-running government coalition.

The incumbent, 77-year-old Social Democrat Heinz Fischer, cannot run for a third term after two six-year terms in office.

TRTWorld, Reuters