Austria’s presidential race too close to call

Austrias-presidential-race-too-close-to-call.  VIENNA,  Austria’s run-off presidential election Sunday between the far right candidate and an independent is too close to call.

The Austrian parliament in Vienna, Austria is controlled by a coalition government of the Social Democrats and the conservative People’s Party. However, the two presidential candidates in a run-off are from the far right and an independent. Photo by ElenaZet/Shutterstock.

Norbert Hofer of the Freedom Party and Alexander Van der Bellen, formerly of the Green Party and now an independent, were each at around 50 percent with 98 percent of the vote counted Sunday.

Data by Austria’s interior ministry, which does not take into account the postal vote, put Hofer at 51.9 percent and Van der Bellen at 48.1.

Postal ballots, which account for 14 percent of eligible voters and are expected to favor the left-leaning candidate, will be tallied Monday.

Voter turnout was 71.8 percent, which was higher than the first round of the presidential election in April.

For the first time since World War II, both the main centrist parties were knocked out in the first round.

The presidency is largely ceremonial post, but a victory by Hofer could help the Freedom Party succeed in the next parliamentary elections in 2018.

Hofer, 45, is an aeronautical engineer and Van der Bellen, 72, is an economics professor.

Hofer had told the press after casting his vote: “I am not a dangerous person.”

By Allen Cone