Van der Bellen Austria’s new president; Steinmeier: “Good omen for Europe”

BELGRADE – In a long and hard-fought election battle which dragged on months longer than normal, and which drew significant international interest, the far-right candidate, Norbert Hofer, appears to have lost his bid to be president, according to exit polls.

Austrian far-right candidate Norbert Hofer on Sunday congratulated his opponent in presidential elections after projections indicated that he had lost.

“I congratulate Alexander Van der Bellen on his success and call on all Austrians to stick together and work together,” Hofer said on Facebook, adding that he was “incredibly sad”, according to AFP.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Sunday said that the far-right defeat in Austria’s presidential election was “a good omen” for Europe.

“If the first results are confirmed this will be a good omen against populism in Europe,” Steinmeier, who is to become Germany’s next president, told a news conference with his Greek counterpart Nikos Kotzias in Athens.

Austria’s Norbert Hofer conceded defeat on Sunday in his bid to become Europe’s first far-right president, as projections showed he was lagging behind Greens-backed independent Alexander Van der Bellen in a bitterly fought election re-run.

“In this particular situation Europe is facing, we are urgently in need of good news,” Steinmeier said earlier during a meeting with Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos, referring to “the Brexit decision” and to “mounting pressure by populist and nationalist forces”.

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