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Can Europe expect its first far-right head of state? Austria to hold do-over election

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By Euronews
Can Europe expect its first far-right head of state? Austria to hold do-over election

<p>Austria’s Constitutional Court has ruled that the presidential run-off election must be held again.</p> <p>Anti-immigration Freedom Party candidate Norbert Hofer – seen here on the left – was narrowly defeated in May by former Greens leader-turned-independent Alexander Van der Bellen.</p> <p>With the result annulled, Hofer will now have another chance to become the European Union’s first far-right head of state.</p> <p>Until the rerun, the presidency will be managed by Austria’s three parliamentary presidents – one of whom will be Hofer once Heinz Fischer steps down next week.</p> <p>“The two presidents and myself have shared a very collegial cooperation for years which was characterized by respect – this respect and this cooperation will continue,” said Hofer.</p> <p>The court ruled there were official grounds to invalidate the vote in the interests of the public and democracy. </p> <p>One percentage point separated the two candidates, with the balance tipped in Van der Bellen’s favour by postal ballots.</p> <p>“Just to avoid any misunderstanding, of course I will stand again when the second ballot is repeated,” said Van der Bellen “And I intend to win it once again. I’m frustrated, but the Constitutional Court decides as it sees fit.” </p> <p>Van der Bellen was supposed to assume the presidency next week, on July 8.</p> <p>Witnesses reported irregularities in the way the count was carried out, which included the processing of postal votes sooner than they should have been.</p> <p>A fresh election is expected to be held in the autumn.</p>