Austria elections: Far-right candidate loses in tight contest

May 24, 2016, 1:17 AM EDT
Austrian parliament
(Source: Dennis Jarvis/flickr)

Freedom Party’s Norbert Hofer suffered a narrow defeat in Austria’s presidential elections in a knife-edge contest that was decided only after postal ballots were counted on Monday. The president-elect Alexander Van der Bellen, who won the election by just 31,000 votes, vowed to deal with the “divisions” in the country, which were exposed during the election campaign.

After his loss, Hofer shared a post on a social media platform and called on his supporters not to get “disheartened,” writes the BBC. He added that the efforts made during the election campaign didn’t go in vain and were an “investment for the future.”

The Freedom Party's campaign manager, Herbert Kickl, lauded Hofer’s performance in the polls and said that the party was strongly placed for parliamentary elections.

While expressing satisfaction over the results, Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress said that the high degree of support for far-right candidate Hofer left “little room to celebrate”, notes The Guardian.

The Freedom Party, which centered its election campaign on strong anti-immigration stance, has been able to appeal to a majority of Austrian voters, who have been deeply frustrated with the established parties of the centre left and centre right.