|11th President of Austria|
8 July 2004
|Preceded by||Thomas Klestil|
|President of the National Council|
5 November 1990 – 20 December 2002
|Preceded by||Rudolf Pöder|
|Succeeded by||Andreas Khol|
9 October 1938 |
Graz, Nazi Germany (now Austria)
|Political party||Social Democratic Party|
|Residence||Hofburg Imperial Palace|
|Alma mater||University of Vienna|
Heinz Fischer, GColIH (German pronunciation: [haɪnts ˈfɪʃɐ]; born 9 October 1938) is the President of Austria. He took office on 8 July 2004 and was re-elected for a second and last term on 25 April 2010. 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, in what had recently become Nazi Germany by Germany’s annexation of Austria in March 1938. Fischer attended the gymnasium, focusing on humanities, and taking his Matura exams 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 being a politician by trade (Berufspolitiker) and suggest he 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 (Austrian presidents running for a second term of office 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 vote 'null and void', which some 7% of the voters did.
Honours and Awards
- 1993 - Italy : Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic
- 2004 - Austria : Grand Star of Honour of the Decoration for Services to the Republic of Austria
- 2005 - Portugal : Grand Collar of the Order of Prince Henry
- 2006 : Collar of Merit Sovereign Military Order of Malta
- 2006 - Finland : Grand Cross of the Order of Collane of the Order of the White Rose of Finland
- 2006 - Hungary : Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary
- 2007 - Norway : Grand Cross of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav
- 2007 - Italy : Knight Grand Cross with Collar of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic
- 2007 - Sweden : Knight of the Royal Order of the Seraphim
- 2008 : Ring of Honour of the Province of Styria
- 2009 : Florianiplakette of the Austrian Federal Fire Association in gold
- 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 - Portugal : Grand Collar of the Order of Saint James of the Sword
- 2009 - Lithuania : Grand Cross with Golden Chain of the Order of Vytautas the Great
- 2011 The BrandLaureate Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement Award.
- 2013 - Luxembourg : Knight of the Order of the Gold Lion of the House of Nassau
- 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[dead link]
- "President of Austria Visits ESO in Santiago". ESO Announcements. Retrieved 8 December 2012.
- at www.bundespraesident.at
- Portuguese President's website Archived 3 April 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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