Norbert Hofer, the anti-immigration Freedom party candidate, conceded to Green party candidate Alexander Van der Bellen Monday afternoon in Austria’s presidential election.
The final vote was 50.3 percent to 49.7 percent in favor of Van der Bellen.
The role of president is largely symbolic. In Austria, as in Germany, chancellor is the position of power.
It took a concerted effort of Greens, center-left, and center-right to beat Hofer, age 45. He will be back.
The Wall Street Journal has more details in Austrian Far-Right Candidate Norbert Hofer Narrowly Loses Presidential Vote.
Alexander Van der Bellen, a 72-year-old economics professor and former Green Party leader, won Austria’s cliffhanger presidential election on Monday, defeating his far-right rival by the slimmest of margins.
Mr. Van der Bellen’s victory was announced by the interior minister, Wolfgang Sobotka. Mr. Van der Bellen won 50.3 percent of the vote, and Mr. Hofer 49.7 percent, a difference of about 30,000 votes.
Polling experts said Mr. Van der Bellen won the election on support from city dwellers — particularly in Vienna, which voted 61 percent for him — women and the highly educated. He promised Sunday night that he would try to heal the rifts that had opened up along these and other lines as establishment politics stagnated.
Mr. Hofer’s showing is the first time the Freedom Party, which has its roots in the 1950s, when it was founded by former Nazis and Teutonic nationalists, had gained close to 50 percent of the popular vote. That alone signals that it is a factor to be reckoned with as Austria, a generally prosperous country of 8.4 million, grapples to find its place in a globalized world, and in a Europe whose unity is under question.
The parties of the center-left and center-right that governed for most of the past 30 years in ever-duller grand coalitions were trounced in the first round of the presidential elections last month, when Mr. Hofer stunned rivals by reaping 35.1 percent, well ahead of Mr. Van der Bellen with 21 percent.
Sunday’s runoff turned into a cliffhanger as the popular vote was counted and showed an ever-narrowing lead for Mr. Hofer. The Austrian public service broadcaster ORF projected that Mr. Van der Bellen would win by just 3,000 votes when the record number of requested mail-in ballots was counted on Monday.
That projection — and the tone of some of the ORF reporting on the election — was heavily criticized by the Freedom Party. It was not clear if there would be legal consequences, but the party’s attitude illustrated the country’s deep divisions.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock