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Heinz Fischer (born 9 October 1938) is the federal president of Austriamarker. He took office on 8 July 2004.

Biography

Born in Grazmarker, Styriamarker, Fischer received a humanistic education, taking his "Matura" exams in 1956. He then studied law at the University of Viennamarker, earning a doctorate in 1961. Apart from being a politician, Fischer also pursued an academic career, and became a Professor of Political Science at the University of Innsbruckmarker in 1993.

Fischer was a member of the Austrian parliament (Nationalrat) from 1971 and served as one of its presiding officers from 1990 till 2004. From 1983 to 1987 he was Minister for Science in a coalition government headed by Fred Sinowatz.

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 of Austria (SPÖ). He polled 52.4 per cent of the vote to defeat Benita Ferrero-Waldner, then Foreign Minister in the ruling conservative coalition led by the Austrian People's Party (ÖVP).

Fischer was sworn in on 8 July 2004 and took over the office from the presidents of the parliament, who had acted for the president following Klestil's death on 6 July. Since he was elected President, he has gained more and more favour and is today, according to many surveys, the most popular and trusted Austrian politician.

Apart from labeling him, in a slightly derogatory fashion, as a Berufspolitiker ("professional politician") who allegedly has never been in touch with the real world, Fischer's critics, first and foremost his colleague at university, Norbert Leser, point out that Fischer has always avoided controversy and conflict, even when that would have been called for. The example frequently quoted in this context is Fischer's tacit support of Bruno Kreisky's attacks on Simon Wiesenthal. On being nominated for Federal President, Fischer himself said that he hated antagonising people and that he considered this quality an asset rather than anything else.

Fischer is a self-avowed agnostic. Fischer has been married since 1968. The couple has two grown-up children. Fischer enjoys mountaineering and has been president of the Austrian Friends of Nature for many years.

References

  1. Portrait of Fischer in the daily Wiener Zeitung


See also



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