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: