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

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

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Austria’s Constitutional Court has ruled that the presidential run-off election must be held again.

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.

With the result annulled, Hofer will now have another chance to become the European Union’s first far-right head of state.

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.

“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.

The court ruled there were official grounds to invalidate the vote in the interests of the public and democracy.

One percentage point separated the two candidates, with the balance tipped in Van der Bellen’s favour by postal ballots.

“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.”

Van der Bellen was supposed to assume the presidency next week, on July 8.

Witnesses reported irregularities in the way the count was carried out, which included the processing of postal votes sooner than they should have been.

A fresh election is expected to be held in the autumn.

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