By Hasan Tosun
VIENNA, Austria (AA) – Alexander Van der Bellen, a former Green Party leader, has won Austria's presidential election, narrowly defeating far-right candidate Norber Hofer.
According to official results announced by Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka on Monday, independent candidate Van der Bellen defeated the Freedom Party's Hofer by 50.3 percent to 49.7 percent of the vote.
Sobotka said that Van der Bellen won 2,254,484 votes to Hofer's 2,223,458 – a slight margin of 31,026 ballots.
Austria has been run by a coalition government since Dec. 2013, when the ruling Social Democrats (SPO) joined the Austrian People's Party in forming an administration.
Although opinion polls had said that support for Hofer – who defends an anti-immigration policy – was strong, those who did not want a right-wing president had ralled behind the 72-year-old, Green Party-backed economist.
Hofer had won the first round of voting on April 24 with 36.4 percent. His victory had been considered a success by his supporters since it was the first time a far-right candidate had received such a high vote in a presidential contest since 1945.
*Anadolu Agency correspondent Burcu Arik contributed to this report from Istanbul.