Austrian far-right narrowly loses presidential poll

  • Updated: May 24, 2016 10:09 IST

VIENNA: Austria narrowly avoided becoming the first EU country to elect a far-right candidate as head of state, as postal ballots decided a knife-edge presidential run-off vote in favour of his environmentalist rival.

After an election that had been too close to call on Sunday, a count of the absentee votes on Monday thrust the 72-yearold Alexander van der Bellen past anti-immigration Freedom Party rival Norbert Hofer and into the largely ceremonial post of president.

The interior ministry count gave van der Bellen 50.3%of the vote, compared to 49.7% for Hofer. The margin of victory was just over 31,000 out of nearly 4.5 million valid votes cast.

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