- Title: Austria rejects far-right candidate in presidential vote
- Date: 5th December 2016
- Summary: VIENNA, AUSTRIA (DECEMBER 5, 2016) (REUTERS) MAN TAKING NEWSPAPER FROM NEWSPAPER STAND NEWSPAPERS WITH HEADLINES SHOWING PICTURES OF WINNING CANDIDATE, PRO-EUROPEAN ENVIRONMENTALIST, ALEXANDER VAN DER BELLEN ANOTHER NEWSPAPER HEADLINE READING "VAN DER BELLEN - PRESIDENT OF THE HEARTS" PEOPLE GETTING ONTO TRAMS PAST ELECTION BILLBOARDS ON ROAD (SOUNDBITE) (German) JOSEF ISCHEB, VIENNA RESIDENT, SAYING: "My opinion is that this was a signal for Europe. In spite of Van der Bellen's victory you could see, if you watched TV yesterday, that majority of the people in this country are not satisfied and perhaps also in Europe, and the politicians should take the initiative to do something about it together and not work against each other." (SOUNDBITE) (German) BARBARA EPPENSTEINER, VIENNA RESIDENT, SAYING: "There is no doubt that the FPO (Freedom Party) will not accept this result just like that, they will try to put some oil on fire, might even ask for new elections. We will have only a small break as the struggle goes on for open society, human rights and everything that Europe stands for." (SOUNDBITE) (German) THOMAS MARTIN SAYING: "I find it very good that reason won over the populist idea but it will not stop, this is a story that will go on. There will be new elections and the cards will be dealt again. So I don't see this as such a big success because it is only a small glimmer of hope." ELECTION BILLBOARDS FEATURING ALEXANDER VAN DER BELLEN IN STREET
- Embargoed: 20th December 2016 10:59
- Keywords: Austria presidential poll Van der Bellen Norbert Hofer Europe
- Location: VIENNA, AUSTRIA
- City: VIENNA, AUSTRIA
- Country: Austria
- Reuters ID: LVA0015BLXY6F
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Austrian voters roundly rejected on Sunday (December 4) a candidate vying to become the first freely elected far-right head of state in Europe since World War Two, halting at least temporarily the wave of populism sweeping Western democracies.
The runoff vote was a litmus test, since it was a re-run of a vote held in May, before Britain voted to leave the European Union and Americans elected Donald Trump as president.
Norbert Hofer of the anti-immigration Freedom Party lost the May election by less than a percentage point, and polls had for months shown the race too close to call.
But within minutes of polls closing it was clear he had lost to former Greens leader Alexander Van der Bellen, who had put the June Brexit referendum at the centre of his campaign, saying Hofer would lead Austria down the same road as Britain and warning voters not to "play with this fire".
Austrians seemed wary on Monday (December 5) as Hofer and his populist Freedom Party (FP) immediately set their sights on taking control of government in the parliamentary election next year.
"There is no doubt that the FPO will not accept this result just like that, they will try to put some oil on fire, might even ask for new elections. We will have only a small break as the struggle goes on for open society, human rights and everything that Europe stands for", Vienna resident Barbara Eppensteiner said.
"I find it very good that reason won over the populist idea but it will not stop, this is a story that will go on. There will be new elections and the cards will be dealt again. So I don't see this as such a big success because it is only a small glimmer of hope, Thomas Martin said.
The Sunday's result is a blow to populists who had hoped a wave of anti-establishment anger sweeping Western democracies would carry Norbert Hofer to power after Britain's Brexit referendum and Americans' election of Donald Trump as president.
Hofer, of the anti-immigration and anti-Islam Freedom Party (FPO), conceded he had been soundly beaten by pro-European environmentalist Alexander Van der Bellen.
Austria's president traditionally has a largely ceremonial role. But the election, a re-run of a May vote that was overturned due to counting irregularities, had been seen as another test of populist sentiment in Europe ahead of elections in France, Germany and the Netherlands next year.
Voters may have heeded Van der Bellen's increasingly strident warnings that Hofer wanted to follow Britain's lead and pull Austria out of the European Union.
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