The result of the Austrian presidential elections is expected to be announced Monday after hundred of thousands of postal ballots are counted. The runoff voting Sunday saw a close fight between far right-wing Freedom Party of Austria candidate Norbert Hofer and Green Party independent Alexander Van der Bellen.
Austria's interior ministry said Hofer is currently slightly ahead of his rival Van der Bellen, according to BBC. Hofer led with 51.9 percent to 48.1 percent for Van der Bellen after all regular ballots cast on Sunday were counted. Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka reportedly said postal voting accounts for 750,000 ballots, nearly 12 percent of Austria's 6.4 million eligible voters. If Hofer wins, it will be the first time a far right-wing candidate wins a presidential race in Europe in several decades.
“Neither of us wished for this, we both wanted to sleep well,” Hofer told public broadcaster ORF in an interview after the two candidates were neck-and-neck with close to 50 percent of the vote each. “I’ve never experienced an election night like this.”
According to reports, about 900,000 voters were issued voting cards ahead of the election, allowing them to cast their vote either by mail or in a voting station other than their regular one.
“Tomorrow is going to be a long day,” Van der Bellen told ORF.
Hofer's Freedom Party of Austria has focused its campaign on the 90,000 people — equivalent to about 1 percent of the Austrian population — who sought asylum in Austria in 2015, mounting an anti-immigrant platform in the runup to the presidential race. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker warned Austrian citizens against voting for Hofer, saying he hoped Van der Bellen would win.