Latest on the Australia Elections; Right-wing candidate Norbert Hofer concedes Austria’s presidential election to left-leaning rival

Latest on Austria’s presidential election (all times local):
6:20 p.m.
Left-leaning Alexander Van der Bellen’s projected victory in Austria’s presidential election is being welcomed across much of the political spectrum in neighboring Germany.
Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, who heads Germany’s center-left Social Democrats, told the Bild newspaper: “A load has been taken off the mind of all of Europe.” He called the result “a clear victory for good sense against right-wing populism.”
Manfred Weber, a conservative who heads the main center-right group in the European Parliament, wrote on Twitter: “Austrians send clear pro-European signal. The European right-wing populists’ party is off for now.”
Ulrich Kelber, a deputy German justice minister and Social Democrat, wrote: “Perhaps (Donald) Trump’s election was the turning point. The liberal majority pushes back.”
A leader of Germany’s opposition Greens, Simone Peter, said it was “a good day for Austria and Europe. The right-wing rabble-rousers have to be stopped!”
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6 p.m.
Austrian right-wing candidate Norbert Hofer has conceded to his left-leaning rival in the country’s presidential election.
Hofer says in a Facebook post that he is “endlessly sad” about his loss, adding, “I would have been happy to take care of our Austria.”
Hofer conceded as preliminary results showed Alexander Van der Bellen ahead with 53.3 percent of the vote compared to Hofer’s 46.7 percent. Those figures may change, but election officials say the margin is big enough to guarantee Van der Bellen’s victory.
Hofer congratulated his rival and urged Austrians to “stick together and to work together.”
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5:20 p.m.
The first official results from the Austrian presidential election show left-leaning candidate Alexander Van der Bellen with what appears to be an unbeatable lead over right-winger Norbert Hofer.
The results, released shortly after the polls closed Sunday, show Van der Bellen with 53.5 percent of the vote. Hofer has 46.4 percent.
While votes continue to be counted, officials say they will not change the outcome but the percentages may still vary.
The margin is a surprise. Polls ahead of Sunday’s vote had shown the two candidates neck-and-neck.
The election is a court-ordered rerun of a May vote that Van der Bellen won by less than 1 percentage point.
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2 p.m.
Austrian right-wing populist Norbert Hofer is focused on reassuring the country that he is not the radical some opponents accuse him of being.
Hofer says that both he and his left-leaning rival, Alexander Van der Bellen, are “level-headed people.” And he says he wouldn’t push for a referendum on Austria’s exit from the European Union but would focus instead on the EU’s positive development.
Hofer spoke before casting his ballot Sunday. With most Austrians critical of the European Union but not to the point of wanting to leave it, Hofer Freedom Party no longer suggests that Austria would be better off outside the EU.
Instead, it is pushing for an EU of loosely allied members mostly sharing economic ties.
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12:55 p.m.
Left-leaning candidate Alexander Van der Bellen says that the presidential election he hopes to win has meaning well beyond Austria.
Van der Bellen is running against right-wing populist Norbert Hofer. The results are seen as a barometer of how well other euroskeptic candidates like Hofer will do elsewhere in the EU in national elections next year.
He said as he cast his ballot that “what happens here today has relevance for all of Europe.”
The election is a rerun from May, which Van der Bellen narrowly won. It is being re-held following a court ruling after Hofer’s Freedom Party claimed widespread irregularities.
Van der Bellen also expressed hope that Italian Premier Matteo Renzi wins a referendum on constitutional reforms that will be decisive for Renzi’s political future.
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10:50 a.m.
As Austrians start casting ballots for president, their comments reflect a tight race between left-leaning Alexander Van der Bellen and right-wing populist Norbert Hofer.
Guenther Poiker is unequivocal, saying outside of a Vienna polling station “I’m a Van der Bellen voter.” But Alexander Mautner figures that “Hofer is going to win, by a very small margin.”
The election is a rerun from May, which Van der Bellen won by less than 1 percentage point. It is being re-held following a court ruling after Hofer’s Freedom Party claimed widespread irregularities.
Austria’s presidency is a mostly ceremonial post. But the election is being watched as a barometer of how populists in other European Union countries may fare in coming months.
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7:30 a.m.
In an election sure to reverberate across Europe, Austrian voters are choosing between a right-wing populist and a left-leaning former politician for their next president.
Austria’s presidency is a mostly ceremonial post. But the Sunday election is being watched as a barometer of how populists in other European Union countries may fare in coming months.
The Austrian vote pits Alexander Van der Bellen against Norbert Hofer. A former leading member of the Greens Party, Van der Bellen is the hope of Austrians who want to stop Hofer, a popular leader of the anti-migrant and anti-EU Freedom Party.
Most polling stations opened at 7 a.m. and will close at 5 p.m. local time. Results are expected late Sunday, but the winner may not be known until absentee ballots are counted on Monday.

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