The Latest: Austrian left-leaning candidate narrowly wins

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Posted: May 23, 2016 11:05 AM
The Latest: Austrian left-leaning candidate narrowly wins

VIENNA (AP) — The Latest on Austria's presidential election (all times local):

4:55 p.m.

Austria's interior minister has announced that a left-leaning candidate has narrowly won presidential elections over an anti-immigrant Euroskeptic politician. The results ease immediate establishment party fears that the country could lurch to the right.

Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka said Alexander Van der Bellen collected 50.3 percent of the votes compared to 49.7 percent for Norbert Hofer of the right-wing Freedom Party. Only a little more than 31,000 votes separated the two, out of more than 4.6 million ballots cast.

The results ease the scenario among establishment parties that Austria's political landscape could move away from its EU-friendly image. Still, the narrow margin of victory for Van der Bellen is the latest indication that Europe's anti-establishment parties are gaining in strength as they exploit concerns about Europe's migration crisis and growing anti-EU sentiment.

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This item has been corrected to show that Van der Bellen garnered 50.3 percent of the vote, not 40.3.

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4:30 p.m.

The right-wing candidate in Austria's presidential election has acknowledged defeat to a left-leaning rival, in a Facebook post thanking his backers for their support.

Norbert Hofer says he is "naturally sad," adding: "I would have been happy to have cared for our wonderful country as federal president." He said Monday that the work of his supporters during the election is "not lost but an investment in the future."

Direct votes Sunday without the count of about 700,000 absentee ballots being counted Monday had given Hofer 51.9 percent while Van der Bellen, a Greens politician running as an independent, got 48.1 percent.

But projections Sunday that included the absentee votes had already put Van der Bellen slightly ahead.

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4:20 p.m.

A left-leaning candidate is ahead of his right-wing Euroskeptic rival in a count of absentee ballots for the Austrian presidency, but it is still not clear who is the overall victor.

Direct votes Sunday without the count of about 700,000 absentee ballots gave Norbert Hofer of the right-wing, Euroskeptic Freedom Party 51.9 percent while Alexander Van der Bellen, a Greens politician running as an independent, got 48.1 percent.

Projections after polls closed Sunday gave Van der Bellen a slight lead, including those absentee ballots. A final result, including all votes, is expected later Monday, with the Interior Ministry announcing a total count.

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10:30 a.m.

A Eurosceptic, anti-immigration right-winger and his left-leaning rival are neck and neck in Austria's presidential election a day after polls closed, and officials are now counting absentee ballots to determine who will win.

Direct votes Sunday gave right-winger Norbert Hofer 51.9 percent to 48.1 percent for Alexander Van der Bellen, a Greens politician running as an independent. But final projections that include still-to-be-counted absentee ballots put each at 50 percent with Van der Bellen narrowly ahead.

About 700,000 absentee ballots — close to a sixth of total votes cast — are slated to be counted by Monday evening for a final tally.

Whoever wins, Sunday's voting has revealed a profound split over which direction the nation should now take, particularly over migration and the future of the European Union.