Austrian Court Annuls Presidential Election Result After Freedom Party Challenge

Austrian Presidential Election
Alexander Van der Bellen, left, who is supported by the Greens, and Norbert Hofer of the Freedom Party in Vienna, Austria, May 22. Hofer narrowly lost out on becoming the EU's first far-right head of state but now has chance to win. Heinz-Peter Bader/Reuters

Austria's presidential run-off election must be held again, the country's Constitutional Court ruled on Friday, handing the Freedom Party's narrowly defeated candidate another chance to become the first far-right head of state in the European Union.

Norbert Hofer of the anti-immigration Freedom Party (FPO) lost the May 22 vote to former Greens leader Alexander Van der Bellen by less than one percentage point, with postal ballots having tipped the balance in Van der Bellen's favor.

The court said it was using its strict standard on the application of election rules. Witnesses have told it of irregularities in the way the count was carried out, including the processing of postal ballots sooner than they should have been.