Austrian interior minister ‘ashamed’ after vote annulled

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VIENNA: Austria’s interior minister said on Saturday he was “ashamed” after the country’s highest court declared the result of May’s presidential election null and void because of widespread procedural “sloppiness.” Friday’s ruling by the Constitutional Court invalidating the outcome of the May 22 election means that Norbert Hofer of the Freedom Party (FPOe) will have another shot at becoming the EU’s first far-right President. I am “disappointed, ashamed… The fact that this sloppiness and breaking of the law took place has shaken me massively,” Wolfgang Sobotka told Oe1 public radio, saying he was “embarrassed.” The court’s ruling, triggered by an FPOe legal challenge, found that postal votes in 14 areas—or 78,000 votes—were opened too early or by unauthorized persons, and so could in theory have been tampered with. Since this represented more than double the independent ecologist Alexander Van der Bellen’s winning margin of just 31,000 votes, the court said that the election must be held again. No date has been set, but it is expected to be in September.

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