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Austria's second round of presidential election begins

Austria's second round of presidential election begins
Far-right Freedom Party candidate Norbert Hofer, who won first round on April 24, looks to bag second round as well

VIENNA (AA) – The second round of presidential election in Austria began Sunday with over 6.3 million registered voters going to polls.

Far-right Freedom Party candidate Norbert Hofer had won the first round on April 24 with 36.4 percent votes.

Hofer was followed by Green Party candidate Alexander Van der Bellen, who got 20.4 percent votes, while independent candidate Irmgard Griss bagged 18.5 percent votes.

Voters now choose between Hofer and Bellen in the second round.

The Freedom Party's victory in first round is considered a "great success" since it is the first time a far-right candidate got such high number of votes in a presidential election in the country’s history since 1945.

Austria has been run by a coalition government since December 2013, when the ruling Social Democrats (SPO) joined the Austrian People's Party in forming an administration.

Amid the surge of the far right, and after losing support of the Social Democrats, Chancellor Werner Faymann stood down May 9 after nearly eight years in office.

According to opinion polls, both Hoffer and Bellen’s votes are very close. Those who do not want to have a right-wing president will vote for Bellen, while those who do not want a pro-refugee president will go for Hofer.

In case Hofer is elected president, this may be the end of the current coalition government as Austrian presidents have the right to appoint and dissolve a government. If elected, Hofer will inevitably appoint the Freedom Party Chairman, Christian-Heinz Strache, to form a new government.

A snap election or a general election scheduled for 2018 could result in the replacement of the current coalition with a right-wing government. This means that Strache will be the prime minister in a coalition government at the very least.

source: News Feed
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