Austria presidential vote: Run-off race too close to call

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Partial results in Austria’s run-off presidential election, which pitches the far right against an independent, suggest it is too close to call.

Norbert Hofer of the Freedom Party and Alexander Van der Bellen were each on 50%, with 98% of the vote counted.

For the first time since World War Two, both the main centrist parties were knocked out in the first round.

A key issue in the campaign was Europe’s migrant crisis, which has seen asylum-seeker numbers soar.

About 90,000 people claimed asylum in Austria last year, equivalent to about 1% of the Austrian population, and the Freedom Party ran an anti-immigration campaign.

The presidency is a largely ceremonial post, but a victory for Mr Hofer could be the springboard for Freedom Party success in the next parliamentary elections, scheduled for 2018.

The presidents of the European Commission and the European Parliament, Jean-Claude Juncker and Martin Schulz, have both expressed concern over a Hofer victory.


Europe will be watching: Bethany Bell, BBC News, Vienna

Austria is faced with a stark choice for its head of state: a Green Party professor, Alexander Van der Bellen, or Norbert Hofer of the far-right Freedom Party – a soft-spoken, charismatic gun enthusiast who won a decisive victory in the first round of voting in April.

Support for the Freedom Party has risen because of deep frustration with the established parties and, more recently, because of fears about the migrant crisis.

Right-wing parties are gaining strength in a number of EU countries. European leaders will be watching the result closely.

Source bbc http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-36353200voted

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