Right-wing Freedom Party to challenge Austrian election

Austria’s right-wing party is formally challenging the result of the presidential election that was narrowly lost by its candidate.

The Freedom Party is claiming numerous irregularities in the May 22 election, particularly for the absentee vote count, said Constitutional Court spokesman Christian Neuwirth.

Freedom Party candidate Norbert Hoffer was leading after polls closed. But final results after a count of absentee ballots put former Green party politician Alexander Van der Bellen ahead with only 30,000 votes.

The final count showed Van der Bellen with 50.3%, compared to 49.7% for Hofer.

The court challenge could result in at least a partial recount if the court rules in favour of the party, which had suggested it might contest the results shortly after they were announced.

Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache said the party had received substantial “diverse information” on possible irregularities.

The elections had been viewed Europe-wide as a proxy fight pitting the continent’s political centre against its growing populist and Eurosceptic movements.

The outcome was cheered by the continent’s established parties, while Europe’s right hailed what it cast as a major political surge by one of its own.


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