Austria’s Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen is aiming for a second term. “If you agree, I would like to do my part to ensure that the next few years will be good for all of us,” he said in a video published online on Sunday, officially announcing his candidacy. The 78-year-old was elected to Austria’s highest state office at the end of 2016.
Van der Bellen’s renewed candidacy had already been expected. The Federal President can be re-elected once in Austria.
The office of Federal President is “an exciting task,” emphasized the former leader of the Greens in the video. It will be a major task in the coming years to preserve peace, social cohesion and nature, he emphasized.
His first term in office was marked by political earthquakes – things never got boring for Van der Bellen. First the Ibiza affair about Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache from the right-wing party FPÖ shook the Alpine republic, then Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) overthrew a corruption affair.
The conservative ÖVP and social democratic SPÖ as well as the liberal Neos have already announced that they will support Van der Bellen. “He performed his duties independently, responsibly and prudently,” said SPÖ leader Pamela Rendi-Wagner of the Austrian news agency APA. The Neos explained that in the next six years it will also be up to Van der Bellen as head of state to “strengthen the rule of law in Austria and finally end corruption in the political system”.
The right-wing populist FPÖ, on the other hand, wants to field an opposing candidate. In 2016, her candidate Norbert Hofer lost against Van der Bellen in the runoff. “With Alexander Van der Bellen, the candidate of the failed system is running again for the presidential election,” said party leader Herbert Kickl.
In the last election there were fears that Hofer would become the first right-wing populist to become head of state in an EU country. But the renowned economist and former university professor Van der Bellen stuck undeterred to his vision of a cosmopolitan, multicultural society – and in the end he was a clear winner.