Austria's presidential hopefuls cast their vote in poll likely to determine whether Austria will drift toward the right after decades of centrist parties dominating political landscape. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: Austria's presidential hopefuls cast their vote on Sunday in a poll likely to determine whether Austria will drift away toward the right after decades of centrist parties dominating the political landscape. Amongst the ruling coalition nominee is Social Democrat (SPO) party candidate Rudolf Hundstorfer. The presidential role has always been held by members of the center-left SPO and the conservative People's Party (OVP) ever since it was first put to a popular vote in 1951. But the nation of 8.7 million seem fed up with political bickering of the two mainstream parties who ruled the country for decades, with polls favoring candidates from neither one instead. The ongoing migrant crisis saw around 100,000 asylum seekers arrive in Austria since last summer, and it was the main issue which dominated the campaign. A recent poll from Austrian market researcher OGM revealed two front runners. One is Alexander Van der Bellen, a 72-year-old Greens Party veteran who criticized the government for being too harsh in its treatment of asylum seekers. Rarely clean-shaven got 25 percent in the poll. Close behind him with 24 percent is the right-wing Freedom Party (FPO) candidate Norbert Hofer, whose view is that the government has been too soft in dealing with the migrants crisis. The 45-year-old Hofer likes shooting. He has called the migrant deal between Europe and Turkey "fatal" and does not want Austria, a major destination for refugees from the Middle East and Afghanistan, to be a "land of immigration". Independent candidate Irmgard Griss, a former high court chief justice who headed an inquiry into Austria's biggest banking disaster, is the only woman running, and is ranked third in polls with 20 percent of projected vote. The candidates from the centrist parties, both in their 60s and 70s, have been floundering between 11 and 15 percent. Austria's president plays a largely ceremonial role from his offices in the imperial Hofburg palace in Vienna. But as the head of state he or she swears in Austria's chancellor, has the authority to dismiss the government cabinet and is commander in chief of the military.