Austria highest court overturns presidential elections
July 1, Sydney: Austria's highest court has ruled that a presidential run-off election must be held again, handing a narrowly defeated candidate another chance to become the first far-right head of state in the European Union.
The party had challenged the result, saying that postal votes had been illegally and improperly handled.
The Freedom Party candidate, Norbert Hofer, lost the election to the former leader of the Greens, Alexander Van der Bellen, by just 30,863 votes or less than one percentage point. The election will now be re-run.
Announcing the decision, Gerhard Holzinger, head of the Constitutional Court, said: "The challenge brought by Freedom Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache against the 22 May election... has been upheld."
He added: "The decision I am announcing today has no winner and no loser, it has only one aim: to strengthen trust in the rule of law and democracy."
Hofer said he was pleased that the court had taken "a difficult decision", adding: "I have great trust in the rule of law."
In two weeks of hearings, lawyers for the Freedom Party argued that postal ballots were illegally handled in 94 out of 117 districts, BBC reports.
It alleged that thousands of votes were opened earlier than permitted under election rules and some were counted by people unauthorised to do so.
The party also claimed to have evidence that some under-16s and foreigners had been allowed to vote.
The Oslo Times International News Network