Heinz Fischer

Heinz Fischer
11th President of Austria
In office
8 July 2004  8 July 2016
Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel
Alfred Gusenbauer
Werner Faymann
Reinhold Mitterlehner
Christian Kern
Preceded by Thomas Klestil
Succeeded by Doris Bures, Karlheinz Kopf, Norbert Hofer (acting)
President of the National Council
In office
5 November 1990  20 December 2002
Preceded by Rudolf Pöder
Succeeded by Andreas Khol
Personal details
Born (1938-10-09) 9 October 1938
Graz, Germany (now Austria)
Political party Social Democratic Party (Before 2004)
Independent (2004–2016)
Spouse(s) Margit Binder
Children 2
Alma mater University of Vienna
Website Official website

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.[1][2]

Early life

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.[3] 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.

Political career

Re-election party, 2010-04-25.

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

Fischer with Argentine president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, in the Pink House.
With ministers Ostermayer and Klug at the opening of the Memorial for the Victims of Nazi Military Justice on the Ballhausplatz

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.[4] 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".[5] 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.

Personal life

Heinz Fischer is welcomed to ESO’s premises in Santiago.[6]

Fischer identifies himself as agnostic[7] and as a social democrat. He has been married to his wife Margit since 1968. The couple have two grown children.

Fischer enjoys mountaineering and has been president of the Austrian Friends of Nature for many years.

Honours and awards

See also


External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Heinz Fischer.
Political offices
Preceded by
Rudolf Pöder
President of the National Council
Succeeded by
Andreas Khol
Preceded by
Thomas Klestil
President of Austria
Succeeded by
Alexander Van der Bellen
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