Freedom Party concedes defeat in Austria presidential election

Global Business

Norbert Hofer, Alexander Van der BellenFILE In this April 24, 2016 file picture Alexander Van der Bellen,, left, talks with Norbert Hofer, right, of Austria’s Freedom Party, FPOE, during the release of the first results of the first round of Austria presidential elections in Vienna.

Austria’s far right Freedom Party conceded defeat in a knife-edge second round presidential election. Both candidates from the ruling coalition government were knocked out in the first round.

CCTV’s Guy Henderson reports from Vienna.
Follow Guy Henderson on Twitter @guyhendersonde

In his victory speech, Austria’s president-elect Alexander Van der Bellen called for unity. “There has been a lot of talk of divisions between left and right. But you should see us as all being the same. It’s two halves that make up Austria – one half is as important as the other,” he said.

For the candidate of the other half and supporters of the far-right Freedom Party, Norbert Hofer’s cries against multiculturalism and mass immigration connected with many Austrian voters,  as did the resignation of Austria’s Chancellor Werner Faymann after seven and-a-half years in office.

Given this election’s razor-thin margin of victory, bridging differences is likely to remain difficult.

“Isolation is maybe not the right way now – but what is the alternative If you have a party that lives with xenophobia – that pretends to racism – that hates the European Union and blames them for all the problems we have in Austria “, Phillipp Mittnik, political analyst of the Vienna Educational College said.