Presidential candidates (L-R) Irmgard Griss, Alexander van der Bellen and Norbert Hofer react during a TV debate in Vienna, Austria, April 24, 2016. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger
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The law-and-order candidate of Austria's right-wing party swept the first round of presidential elections Sunday, gathering over 35 percent of the vote for the party's best ever result and leaving the other five candidates far behind.The triumph by Norbert Hofer eclipses his Freedom Party's best previous showing – more than 27 percent support in elections that decided Austria's membership in the European Union.With 98 percent of ballots counted, Hofer was far ahead of Alexander Van der Bellen of the Greens party who ran as an independent. He polled just over 21 percent support and will challenge Hofer in the second round.Independent Irmgard Griss came in third. At just under 20 percent she was still ahead of People's Party candidate Andreas Khol and Social Democrat Rudolf Hundstorfer, both hovering around 10 percent. Political uncertainty may lie ahead, even if Hofer is defeated.
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