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Expert: Austria election rerun is 'likely'

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Expert: Austria election rerun is 'likely'
Heinz Christian-Strache (left) and Norbert Hofer. Photo: Instagram/Norbert Hofer
11:30 CEST+02:00
A rerun of the Austrian presidential election following the complaint filed by the defeated Freedom Party is likely, according to an expert on the Austrian constitution.

In an interview with Der Standard newspaper, University of Vienna professor Theo Öhlinger also said that two of the complaints in the 150-page document filed with the constitutional court were “very serious”.

One of those complaints is about postal votes being counted in some places by municipal officers rather than the electoral commission as a whole.

Öhlinger added that it was also a serious concern that interim results were being published online before the polling stations had closed.

The run-off presidential election on May 22nd was won by the independent Alexander Van der Bellen, the former leader of the Green party, who defeated the anti-immigration Freedom Party candidate Norbert Hofer by a margin of only 30,863 votes.

Preliminary results on the Sunday initially suggested Hofer had a slight lead, but after 700,000 postal votes were counted, Van der Bellen came out in front in the end with a slim 0.6% lead.

The election was one of the tightest in Austria's history and in the weeks following some Freedom Party politicians and their supporters complained of irregularities, including the fact that postal votes had been counted too early.

After the party leader Heinz-Christian Strache filed an official complaint last Wednesday, the constitutional court has until July 6th to decide if the challenge can be upheld.

Öhlinger believes the court would not recall the election if the irregularities did not look like they would influence the result but “as soon as it approaches 30,000, the election would probably be repeated”.

Although he previously thought this would be unlikely, the professor added that now he has now “revised this opinion”.

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