Austria will vote for president again in October

Tuesday, 5 July, 2016 - 15:15

Austria set a new date Tuesday for the presidential election after the country’s high court ordered a rerun over irregularities reported in the first round.

Chancellor Christian Kern said Austrians will go to the polls on October 2, after results of the May election were declared null.

“We had today to take a decision on holding the presidential election on October 2. As you can imagine, it was a relatively easy decision to take,” Kern said after a cabinet meeting.

Officials had announced the date before the cabinet meeting. Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka said he proposed the date to the council of ministers.

The parliament must approve the new date announced by the government, although it is mostly a formality.

The announcement comes less than a week after Austria’s Constitutional Court said there must be a rerun of the May runoff between the right-wing candidate, Norbert Hofer, and the left-leaning independent, Alexander Van der Bellen.

Hofer's Freedom Party had challenged the votes, saying widespread irregularities happened in the counting process. It said the runoff results, which saw Van der Bellen win by fewer than 30,000 votes, were distorted by mistakes and sloppiness in counting the absentee ballots among other violations.

The court reportedly questioned 60 witnesses, saying most of them confirmed violations in the counting of the postal ballots.