Freedom Party of Austria candidate Norbert Hofer has conceded defeat in his bid to become the next president of Austria after early exit polls showed his opponent held a significant lead.
1845 CET — Hofer will fight again
While Freedom Party candidate Mr. Hofer has conceded defeat, he has vowed to run again. Telling Austrian television this result was a “small low”, he said he didn’t anticipate the Austrian government surviving long and would stand for president again.
While the failure to gain the largely ceremonial presidency is a setback for the Freedom party, things are looking good for the coming general election in 2018. Their poll ratings have been steadily climbing for years and they now stand ten points clear of their next nearest rivals the left-wing mainstream SPO, and 20 points clear of the Greens.
1830 CET — Austria close to a provisional result
While the official results won’t be published until Monday, the provisional result is almost complete with 92 per cent of votes counted. While most of the political map in Austria is painted blue for the right-wing Mr. Hofer, it is the small areas of densely populated Austria in Vienna and Voralberg that are carrying it for Van der Bellen.
The former Green party leftist now leads at 53.3 per cent to Mr. Hofer’s 46.7.
1810 CET — Much respect for Mr. Hofer
Dutch anti-mass migration politician and Party for Freedom leader Geert Wilders has reached out to congratulate Mr. Hofer on his attempt to become Austrian president, remarking “you fought bravely… much respect for that”.
Moedig gestreden FPÖ- @norbertghofer
Mutig gekämpft FPÖ – @norbertghofer
You fought bravely FPÖ – @norbertghofer
Viel Respekt dafür! pic.twitter.com/WbpxMG8kNN
— Geert Wilders (@geertwilderspvv) December 4, 2016
1755 CET — Election of Van der Bellen is good news for the European Union
The potential election of Eurosceptic and anti-mass migration candidate Norbert Hofer has caused some consternation in Europe recently, with a protest taking place in central Vienna on Saturday against Mr. Hofer.
Britain’s BBC has made clear the collective sigh of relief breathed through European institutions and by establishment politicians tonight, reporting: “The result is sure to be welcomed by establishment parties and officials in the EU”.
Freedom party leader Heinz-Christian Strache congratulated Van der Bellen but said the result was “disappointing”, and pointed to the “massive anxiety campaign” which has been waged by the mainstream media and political “system” against his candidate, in an interview with ORF.
1730 CET — Van der Bellen opens up lead in polling as Hofer concedes
The latest polling from Austria’s state ORF broadcaster shows former Green Party leader Alex Van der Bellen with a seven per cent lead. Bowing out before the first official results, Freedom Party challenger took to social media to tell his supporters:
“Thank you. You have supported me so magnificently and I am infinitely sad that it did not work out. I would have liked to take care of our Austria.
“Alexander Van der Bellen congratulated me… and asked all Austrians to keep together and work together. We are all Austrians, no matter who we choose in elections.
“Long live our home, Austria”.
The Associated Press and Austria’s best read newspaper Kronen Zeitung have both called the election for leftist Van der Bellen.
BREAKING: First official results in Austria: Left-leaning candidate takes unbeatable lead in presidential election.
— The Associated Press (@AP) December 4, 2016
1700 CET — Polls close
Austrians went to the polls today to chose their new president, a re-run from the original vote in May which was invalidated by Austria’s supreme court over postal voting irregularities. The lead held by Green candidate Van der Bellen was so slim, the number of affected postal ballots was higher.
Freedom party candidate Norbert Hofer campaigned to secure Austria’s borders and has mooted the country joining the conservative Visegrad group of nations. Present members Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, and Czechia have formed the vanguard of nations in Europe opposing Brussels directives on mass migration and resettlement.
He has said he would support a referendum on Austrian membership of the European Union if the bloc continued the process to admit Turkey.
This story is developing