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Austria Interior Minister Says Left-Leaning Candidate Has Narrowly Defeated Right-Wing Candidate in Country's Presidential Election

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Presidentianl candidate backed by the Greens Alexander Van der Bellen reacts during an election party after the second round of the Austrian President elections on May 22, 2016 in Vienna. (ROLAND SCHLAGER/AFP/Getty Images)

VIENNA (AP) -- Austria's interior minister has announced that a left-leaning candidate has narrowly won presidential elections over an anti-immigrant Euroskeptic politician. The results ease immediate establishment party fears that the country could lurch to the right.

Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka said Alexander Van der Bellen collected 40.3 percent of the votes compared to 49.7 percent for Norbert Hofer of the right-wing Freedom Party. Only a little more than 31,000 votes separated the two, out of more than 4.6 million ballots cast. Hofer conceded the race in a Facebook post on Monday.

The results ease the scenario among establishment parties that Austria's political landscape could move away from its EU-friendly image. Still, the narrow margin of victory for Van der Bellen is the latest indication that Europe's anti-establishment parties are gaining in strength as they exploit concerns about Europe's migration crisis and growing anti-EU sentiment.

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