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Austrian Court Rules Presidential Runoff Must Be Held Again

Austria’s Constitutional Court has ruled the country’s presidential runoff election must be held again, 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 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 on July 1 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.

Van der Bellen had been due to be sworn in later this month. Until the rerun, the presidency will be run jointly by the three parliamentary presidents -- one of whom is Hofer.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters