Independent candidate wins Austrian presidential polls

Alexander van der Bellen beats far-right leader Norbert Hofer of Freedom Party in knife-edge election.

    Independent candidate Alexander van der Bellen has won Austria's presidential election after far-right leader Norbert Hofer conceded defeat.

    The interior minister said on Monday that Alexander Van der Bellen won 50.3 percent of the vote in Sunday's knife-edge election, compared to 49.7 percent for Hofer, presented as the friendly and moderate face of the anti-immigration, populist Freedom Party (FPOe).

    "Of course I am sad," Hofer said on Facebook as he conceded defeat. "I would have loved to have looked after this wonderful country for you as president.

    "Please don't be disheartened. The effort in this election campaign is not wasted, but is an investment for the future."

    Preliminary results late on Sunday had put Hofer 3.8 percentage points ahead in the runoff for the largely ceremonial but bitterly fought-over post of Austrian head of state, but postal ballots, which account for about 12 percent of eligible votes, swayed the result in Van der Bellen's favour.

    A record 700,000 postal ballots were counted during Monday, dramatically putting Van der Bellen ahead by just over 31,000 votes in the final tally.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    The Philippines’ Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest storm ever to make landfall. Five years on, we revisit this story.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    We Are Still Here: A Story from Native Alaska

    We Are Still Here: A Story from Native Alaska

    From Qatar to Alaska, a personal journey exploring what it means to belong when your culture is endangered.