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Austrian president leaves office with no elected successor


Vienna – Heinz Fischer ended his second term as Austrian president on Friday, but no new leader was sworn in because the election for his successor in May was tainted by irregularities.
In his farewell speech before parliament, the 77-year-old Social Democratic president issued a plea against populism and xenophobia.
“Our refugee policy must be marked by rationality as well as humanity, having one without the other would not be sufficient,’’ Fischer said.
The Constitutional Court annulled the result of the run-off election on Thurday, which former Green party leader Alexander Van der Bellen won by a slim margin against senior far-right parliamentarian Norbert Hofer.
The judges confirmed allegations by Hofer’s Freedom Party that ballot papers were handled prematurely and without proper oversight, although they found no evidence of actual election fraud.
Meanwhile until the rerun election on Oct. 2 and the inauguration of the new head of state, the three presidents of Austria’s parliament, including Hofer, will take over the presidential duties.
Fischer became president in 2004, after having served as science minister and a president of parliament. (dpa/NAN)

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