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Pro-European candidate Van der Bellen wins presidential election in Austria

Early exit polls in the Austrian presidential election show that former Green Party leader Alexander Van der Bellen has won with 53.6 percent of the vote. Right-wing candidate Norbert Hofer has acknowledged defeat.
Pro-European candidate Van der Bellen wins presidential election in Austria

According to an exit poll conducted by Austrian broadcaster ORF on Sunday, independent candidate Alexander Van der Bellen has been elected as Austrian president after winning 53.6 percent of the vote, Deutsche Welle reports.

“From the start, I have always fought and argued in favor of an Austrian that is pro-European,” Van der Bellen said on public television.

Right-wing candidate Norbert Hofer conceded defeat after garnering 46.6 percent of the electorate, confirming that he would not challenge the result. Reacting to the result on Facebook, Hofer said he was “infinitely upset.”

“I would have liked to take care of our Austria,” Hofer wrote.

Van der Bellen’s victory on Sunday will come as a huge blow to Europe’s right-wing populist movements, which were anticipating a boost ahead of next year’s elections in France, Germany and the Netherlands.

Austrian Chancellor and Social Democrat Christian Kern congratulated Van der Bellen shortly after the exit poll was announced.

“I see a good day for Austria,” Kern wrote on Twitter. “Now to jointly ensure that no one sees himself as a loser.”

In neighboring Germany, Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel also congratulated Van der Bellen, saying that a “huge weight had been lifted off of Europe.”

“Should the forecast be confirmed, the result of the Austrian election will be a clear victory of reason against right-wing populism,” the Social Democrat (SPD) told German newspaper “Bild.”

Photo: Reuters.