Far-right party wins 1st round of Austrian elections
Norbert Hofer of the Freedom party in Austria, won a clear majority in the first round of the Austrian presidential elections. Candidates from the two ruling centrist parties failed to even make it into a runoff, coming fourth and fifth each with 11% of the vote. Freedom party leader, Heinz-Christian Strache hailed the elections as "the beginning of a new political era" in Austria.
Austria is a federal parliamentary representative democratic republic, with a Federal Chancellor as the head of government, and a Federal President as head of state. The President is elected by popular vote for a term of six years and limited to two consecutive terms of office. The two major political parties in Austria are the Social Democratic Party of Austria and the People's party.
There are public elections for the post of president in Austria every six years. The election is held under a two-round system. If no candidate receives more than 50% of votes cast in the first round, then a second ballot occurs (run-off) in which only those two candidates who received the greatest number of votes in the first round may stand.
According to the Austrian Election Commission, 6,382,484 Austrian citizens aged 16+ are eligible to vote in the presidential election. Compared with the 2010 presidential election, the number of eligible voters increased by 26,684.
According to the norms set by Austria's Election Commission, if no candidate secures a majority of the votes in the first round of the presidential elections, a run-off will be held on 22 May.
The results mark a major shake-up in Austrian politics. It is the first time that the Socialist's and the People's party, who have ruled Austria either as a majority or in a coalition since World War 2, have not been elected to power. The clear victory of the far-right candidate reflects widespread discontent with the status quo and concerns over immigration and the economy.