In Brief

Austrian election: Far-right leader concedes defeat

Pro-European candidate Alexander Van der Bellen becomes president as Norbert Hofer only wins 46.7 per cent of vote

Austrian voters have rejected far-right candidate Norbert Hofer to be their next president, instead choosing Alexander Van der Bellen, the pro-European independent candidate backed by the Greens.

Hofer, who was seeking to become the first far-right leader in Europe since World War II, polled 46.7 per cent to his rival's 53.3 per cent.

Voters "resoundingly rejected anti-immigration and Eurosceptic" Hofer, in what has been an "ugly and polarising election in normally peaceable Austria", says the Daily Telegraph.

Conceding defeat less than half an hour after the first exit poll results were published, the politician described himself as "endlessly sad".

"I congratulate Alexander Van der Bellen for his success and ask all Austrians to pull together and work together," he said.

Van der Bellen said: "I will try to be an open-minded, a liberal-minded and first of all a pro-European federal president of the Republic of Austria."

His win was particularly resounding in urban areas, with all 23 of Vienna's districts rejecting Hofer's populist platform. He also had greater support from female voters than male. 

Despite the office of president being "largely ceremonial", the poll "had been seen as a sign of how well populist candidates might do elsewhere in Europe", the BBC says.

The ballot was a rerun of the May 2015 vote, which Van der Bellen won with just 50.35 per cent. That election was "marred by postal vote irregularities", says the BBC, forcing it to be staged again.

Infographic by www.statista.com for TheWeek.co.uk.

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