Austrian election: Independent Van der Bellen victorious as far-right's Hofer concedes defeat

 
Billy Bambrough
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The largely ceremonial presidential vote was seen as a bellwether for populism in Europe
The largely ceremonial presidential vote was seen as a bellwether for populism in Europe (Source: Getty)

Austrian independent candidate and former Greens leader Alexander Van der Bellen has won the country's presidential race after far-right candidate Norbert Hofer conceded defeat.

Initial projections showed Van der Bellen with an unassailable lead of around 54 per cent to Hofer's 46 per cent.

Herbert Kickl, Hofer's campaign manager told the state-backed broadcaster ORF:

The bottom line is it didn't quite work out. In this case the establishment – which pitched in once again to block, to stonewall and to prevent renewal – has won.

The presidency in Austria is largely ceremonial many have used it as a gauge of support for populist candidates in upcoming European elections.

Alternative – sometimes called the Alt-right – and anti-immigration parties are gaining ground in France, the Netherlands and Germany, all of which are facing elections next year.

Meanwhile Italy is holding a referendum today on constitutional reform that could decide the political future of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who has promised to resign if he loses.

The result of the Italian vote is expected sometime around midnight.

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