|11th President of Austria|
8 July 2004 – 8 July 2016
|Preceded by||Thomas Klestil|
|Succeeded by||Doris Bures, Karlheinz Kopf, Norbert Hofer (acting)|
|President of the National Council|
5 November 1990 – 20 December 2002
|Preceded by||Rudolf Pöder|
|Succeeded by||Andreas Khol|
9 October 1938|
Graz, Germany (now Austria)
Social Democratic Party (Before 2004)|
|Alma mater||University of Vienna|
Heinz Fischer GColIH (German pronunciation: [haɪnts ˈfɪʃɐ]; born 9 October 1938) is an Austrian politician. He took office as President of Austria on 8 July 2004 and was re-elected for a second and last term on 25 April 2010, leaving office on 8 July 2016. Fischer previously served as Minister of Science from 1983 to 1987 and as President of the National Council of Austria from 1990 to 2002. A member of the Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPÖ), he suspended his party membership for the duration of his presidency.
Fischer was born in Graz, Styria, which had recently become part of Nazi Germany, following Germany’s annexation of Austria in March 1938. Fischer attended a grammar school which focused on humanities and graduated in 1956. He studied law at the University of Vienna, earning a doctorate in 1961. In 1963, at the age of 25, Fischer spent a year volunteering at Kibbutz Sarid, northern Israel. Apart from being a politician, Fischer also pursued an academic career, and became a professor of Political Science at the University of Innsbruck in 1993.
Fischer was a member of the Austrian parliament, the National Council, from 1971, and served as its president from 1990 to 2002. From 1983 to 1987 he was Minister of Science in a coalition government headed by Fred Sinowatz.
First term as President
In January 2004 Fischer announced that he would run for president to succeed Thomas Klestil. He was elected on 25 April 2004 as the candidate of the opposition Social Democratic Party. He polled 52.4 per cent of the votes to defeat Benita Ferrero-Waldner, then Foreign Minister in the ruling conservative coalition led by the People's Party.
Fischer was sworn in on 8 July 2004 and took over office from the college of presidents of the National Council, who had acted for the President following Klestil's death on 6 July.
Fischer's critics, foremost among them Norbert Leser, his university colleague, have derided him as a career politician (Berufspolitiker) who has never been in touch with the real world. They claim that Fischer has always avoided controversy and conflict, even when that seemed required, pointing to Fischer's tacit support for Bruno Kreisky in his attacks on Simon Wiesenthal. On being nominated for president, Fischer said that he hated antagonising people and that he considered this quality an asset rather than anything else.
Second term as President
In April 2010, Fischer was re-elected as President of Austria, winning a second six-year term in office with almost 79% of the votes. The voter turnout of merely 53.6% was a record low. Around a third of those eligible to vote voted for Fischer, leading the conservative daily Die Presse to describe the election as an "absolute majority for non-voters". The reasons behind the low turnout may be that pollsters had predicted a safe victory for Fischer (past Austrian presidents running for a second term have always won) and that the other large party, ÖVP, had not nominated a candidate of their own, and had not endorsed any of the three candidates. Some prominent ÖVP members, unofficially but in public, even suggested to cast a blanc vote, which some 7% of the voters did.
Honours and awards
- 1993 Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic (Italy)
- 2004 Grand Star of Honour of the Decoration for Services to the Republic of Austria (Austria)
- 2005 Grand Collar of the Order of Prince Henry (Portugal)
- 2005 Grand Cross of the Order of Isabella the Catholic (Spain)
- 2006 Grand Cross of the Order of Collane of the Order of the White Rose of Finland (Finland)
- 2006 Grand Cross with Collar of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary (Hungary)
- 2006 Collar of the Order pro merito Melitensi (Sovereign Military Order of Malta)
- 2007 Knight Grand Cross with Collar of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic (Italy)
- 2007 Grand Cross of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav (Norway)
- 2007 Knight of the Royal Order of the Seraphim (Sweden)
- 2008 Ring of Honour of the Province of Styria
- 2008 Freedom of the City of Graz
- 2008 Honorary Doctorate of Law Faculty of the University of Tel Aviv
- 2009 Honorary Doctorate from the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences
- 2009 Florianiplakette of the Austrian Federal Fire Association in gold
- 2009 Grand Cross with Golden Chain of the Order of Vytautas the Great (Lithuania)
- 2009 Grand Collar of the Order of Saint James of the Sword (Portugal)
- 2011 The BrandLaureate Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement Award
- 2013 Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour (France)
- 2013 Knight of the Order of the Gold Lion of the House of Nassau (Luxembourg)
- 2014 National Flag Order (Albania)
- 2015 Grand Collar of the Order of the Condor of the Andes (Bolivia)
- 2016 Order of Stara Planina (Bulgaria)
- Wiener Zeitung
- "Neuer alter Präsident". Bayerischer Rundfunk. 2010-04-25. Retrieved 2010-11-13.
- Austrian president vows to bring up Schalit case with Assad | Middle East
- "Austria president sweeps to victory". Al Jazeera. 25 April 2010. Retrieved 25 April 2010.
- http://www.gulf-times.com/site/topics/article.asp?cu_no=2&item_no=357759&version=1&template_id=39&parent_id=21 Archived June 2, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
- "President of Austria Visits ESO in Santiago". ESO Announcements. Retrieved 8 December 2012.
- at www.bundespraesident.at
- Portuguese President's website Archived April 4, 2013, at WebCite
- Lithuanian Presidency, Lithuanian Orders searching form
- Heinz Fischer
- "L'actualité des royautés, "Henri et Maria Teresa en Autriche"" (in French). Retrieved 2 July 2013.
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|President of the National Council
| Succeeded by|
|President of Austria
| Succeeded by|
Alexander Van der Bellen