Austrian chancellor quits after far-right election triumph

VIENNA – Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann resigned on Monday – his spokeswoman said – following the triumph by the far-right last month in the first round of presidential elections.

“He has resigned from all functions,” spokeswoman Anja Richter said. In the first round of elections to the largely ceremonial post of president on April 24, Norbert Hofer of the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe) came first with 35 per cent.

Hofer will now face Alexander van der Bellen, a former head of the Greens, in a runoff on May 22. The two candidates from the ruling coalition parties, Faymann’s centre-left Social Democrats (SPOe) and the centre-right People’s Party (OeVP), were knocked out.

This means that for the first time since 1945, there will not be a president from either of these two centrist parties. The two parties have dominated Austrian politics since World War II, but their support has been sliding for years.

At the last general election, in 2013, they only just scratched together a majority.

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