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24 April 2016

Austria election: Pro-White candidate wins presidential vote

Austria's far-right Freedom Party candidate has come top in the first round of presidential elections, projections show

Austrian far right Freedom Party (FPOe) presidential candidate Norbert Hofer waves with Austrian flags during the final election rally in Vienna, Austria, April 22, 2016.

VIENNA- Initial results show that the candidate of Austria's right-wing, anti-immigrant party has swept the first round of Austria's presidential elections, gathering over 35 percent of the vote and leaving the other five candidates far behind.

The apparent triumph by Norbert Hofer of the Freedom Party reflects wide-spread voter dissatisfaction with the center-left Social Democrats and the centrist Freedom party. The preliminary results from official ballot counts show their candidates with not much more than 10 percent backing each.

Alexander Van der Bellen and Irmgard Griss, who ran as independents, were close to 20 percent. One of them will likely challenge Hofer in the May 22 runoff. That race will likely be closer, with most of those opposed to the Freedom Party giving one of the independents their support.

The Freedom Party's previous best showing was more than 27 percent in elections that decided Austria's membership in the European Union.

Much of Europe has begun lurching politically to the far right as a massive migrant crisis changes the very fabric of society there.


Resurgent Austrian far-right big winners in presidential election:

VIENNA - Austria's anti-immigration far-right triumphed Sunday in the first round of presidential elections, dealing a wake-up call to Vienna's cosy political establishment two years before the next scheduled general election.

Norbert Hofer of the Freedom Party (FPOe) won 36.7 of the vote, projections showed, with candidates from the two governing parties failing to even make it into a runoff on May 22, projections showed.

The result, if confirmed, means that for the first time since 1945, Austria will not have a president backed by either the Social Democrats (SPOe) or their centre-right coalition partners the People's Party (OeVP).

The SPOe's candidate Rudolf Hundstorfer came joint fourth with just 11.2 percent, level with Andreas Khol of the OeVP.

It was the best-ever result at federal level for the FPOe, whose entry into government in 2000 under the late SS-admiring Joerg Haider sent shock waves through Europe.

Support for the two main parties, which have between them run Austria since 1945, has been sliding for years and in the last general election in 2013 they only just garnered enough support to re-form their "grand coalition".

"Like elsewhere in Europe, we are witnessing the downfall of the traditional parties," political analyst Peter Hajek told AFP.

Having a president in the Habsburg dynasty's former palace in Vienna not from either of the two main parties could shake up the traditionally staid and consensus-driven world of Austrian politics.

Hofer -- the "friendly face of the FPOe" who likes to carry his Glock gun in public -- has threatened to fire the government if it fails to get tougher on migrants.

Van der Bellen has said he would refuse to swear in FPOe leader Heinz-Christian Strache as chancellor in 2018 if his party comes first in elections then.

"The role is like that of a sleeping giant who has a lot more authority than people are aware of," legal expert Manfried Welan told AFP.

"I can only say that I have a good feeling that things are looking good," Hofer said as he cast his vote on Sunday morning.