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Austrian Far-Right FPO Challenges Presidential Election Result -Court | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Austrian President Heinz Fischer (R) welcomes President-elect Alexander Van der Bellen in his office in Vienna, Austria, May 24, 2016. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

Austria’s far-right Freedom Party (FPO) has challenged the result of last month’s presidential elections, the constitutional court said on Twitter on Wednesday.

Postal ballots pushed former Greens leader Alexander Van der Bellen past the FPO’s Norbert Hofer in a tight run-off vote in which the margin of victory was less than 1 percentage point or roughly 31,000 votes.

“(The) challenge by Heinz-Christian Strache of the presidential run-off vote has arrived at the Constitutional Court,” the court’s spokesman said on Twitter, without elaborating.

Hofer would have been the first far-right head of state in the European Union, despite the fact that the post of president is ceremonial in Ausria. Governments across the continent breathed a sigh of relief at his defeat.

However the country is being threatened to be divided into two because of the Freedom Party, with workers and rural areas largely backing Hofer and cities and the highly educated leaning toward Van der Bellen.

Once the challenge is officially filed, Austria’s Constitutional Court will decide whether to accept it. For that, it must find that the law was broken and that the breach might have affected the election’s outcome.