Published On: Fri, Jul 1st, 2016

Austrian court annuls presidential election result

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Far-right candidate Norbert Hofer was narrowly defeated in the 2016 Austrian presidential election  © AFP/File Joe Klamar

Far-right candidate Norbert Hofer was narrowly defeated in the 2016 Austrian presidential election
© AFP/File Joe Klamar

Vienna (AFP) – Austria’s highest court on Friday annulled May’s presidential election result following a legal challenge from the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe), whose candidate lost by a narrow margin, citing irregularities.

“The challenge brought by Freedom Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache against the May 22 election… has been upheld,” said Gerhard Holzinger, head of Austria’s Constitutional Court.

Norbert Hofer of the FPOe came top in a first round in April but then lost by only 30,863 votes to Alexander Van der Bellen, an independent backed by the Green Party, in a runoff.

Preliminary results on the evening had given Hofer a narrow lead but after 700,000 postal votes were counted, Van der Bellen was declared the winner of the largely ceremonial post the next day.

The FPOe, which is topping opinion polls ahead of the next scheduled general elections in 2018 on the back of unease about immigration, launched a legal challenge on June 8 because of “massive irregularities”.

These included allegations that tens of thousands of votes were opened earlier than allowed under election rules and that some votes were counted by people not authorised to do so.

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Syed Ammar Alavi

- is Lahore (Pakistan) based journalist & writer with 25-year experience in print, wire and broadcast forms of journalism. His major fields of interest are politics, film,tv,sports, climate change and technology