May 23, 2016

REACTION: Far-right presidential candidate ahead as Austria counts final votes.

The ministry said Freedom Party candidate Hofer had 51.9% of the votes cast in person Sunday, while former Green Party chief Alexander Van der Bellen had 48.1%. About 750,000 ballots cast by mail were still being tallied. They represent about 12% of the 6.4 million voters, the BBC reported.

A Hofer victory would mark the first time a European nation elected a far-right president since World War II.

In Austria, the presidency is a figurehead position with the real executive power residing in the office of the Chancellor — “safely” inhabited by Social Democrat Heinz Fischer.

The real test of strength for the Freedom Party won’t come until the next parliamentary election in 2018. The party currently holds 38 seats in 183-seat National Council, and 13 of the 61 positions in the Federal Council.

UPDATE: Independent candidate Alexander Van der Bellen has won Austria’s presidential election.

Van der Bellen ran as a pro-EU independent with support from Austria’s Green Party.

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