Heinz Fischer GColIH, OMRI, RSerafO, GCollSE (German pronunciation: [haɪnts ˈfɪʃɐ] ; born 9 October 1938) is a former Austrian politician who served as President of Austria from 2004 to 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.[1] A member of the Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPÖ) until 2004, he suspended his party membership as he became president.[2][3][4]

Heinz Fischer
Fischer in 2018
President of Austria
In office
8 July 2004 – 8 July 2016
Preceded byThomas Klestil
Succeeded byAlexander Van der Bellen
Second President of the National Council
In office
20 December 2002 – 16 June 2004
Preceded byThomas Prinzhorn
Succeeded byBarbara Prammer
President of the National Council
In office
5 November 1990 – 20 December 2002
Preceded byRudolf Pöder
Succeeded byAndreas Khol
Minister of Science and Research
In office
24 May 1983 – 21 January 1987
Preceded byHertha Firnberg
Succeeded byHans Tuppy
Personal details
Born (1938-10-09) 9 October 1938 (age 85)
Graz, Reichsgau Steiermark, State of Austria, German Reich
(now Graz, Styria, Austria)
Political partyIndependent (2004–present)
Other political
Social Democratic Party
(until 2004)
(m. 1968)
Alma materUniversity of Vienna (PhD)
AwardsOrder of Merit of the Italian Republic
Order of Prince Henry
Royal Order of the Seraphim
Military Order of Saint James of the Sword
Military service
Allegiance Austria
Branch/service Austrian Armed Forces
Years of service1958
UnitHeerestelegrafenbataillon Army Signal Corps

Early life


Fischer was born to a Jewish family 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.[5] Apart from being a politician, Fischer also pursued an academic career, and became a professor of Political Science at the University of Innsbruck in 1994.[6]

Political career

Re-election party in 2010

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.

Second term as president

Fischer with Japanese prime minister Yukio Hatoyama in Tokyo on 30 September 2009
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
Fischer with Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei in Tehran on 8 September 2015

In April 2010, Fischer was re-elected 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.[7] 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".[8] The reasons behind the low turnout may have been that pollsters had predicted a safe victory for Fischer (past Austrian presidents running for a second term had 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. Prominent ÖVP members, unofficially but in public, even suggested to cast a blank vote, which 7% of the voters did.



In 2017, he and former UN secretary-general Ban-Ki Moon co-founded the Ban Ki-Moon Centre for Global Citizens, an international non-governmental organization to advance the Sustainable Development Goals, headquartered in Vienna.[9]

Personal life

Heinz Fischer is welcomed to ESO's premises in Santiago.[10]
Arms as knight of the Seraphim

Fischer identifies himself as agnostic[11] and as a social democrat. He and Margit Binder married in 1968. The couple have two grown children.

Despite being members of opposing parties, Fischer was close friends with former ÖVP politician Sixtus Lanner.[12]

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

Honours and awards


National Honours


Federal Order


State Honours



  • 2009 Florianiplakette of the Austrian Federal Fire Association in gold

Foreign Honours


Foreign Orders


Foreign Awards


See also



  1. ^ "Präsidentinnen und Präsidenten seit 1920 | Parlament Österreich". www.parlament.gv.at.
  2. ^ Online, Wiener Zeitung. "Wiener Zeitung Online – Tageszeitung für Österreich". Wiener Zeitung Online – Tageszeitung für Österreich.[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ "Neuer alter Präsident". Bayerischer Rundfunk. 25 April 2010. Archived from the original on 29 July 2012. Retrieved 13 November 2010.
  4. ^ Christian Böhmer; Michael Hammerl (25 April 2023). "Warum Heinz Fischer Rendi-Wagner unterstützt - aber nicht für sie abstimmt (Why Heinz Fischer supports Rendi-Wagner - but doesn't vote for her)". kurier.at (in German). Wien: k-digital Medien GmbH & Co KG. Retrieved 4 June 2023.
  5. ^ "Austrian president vows to bring up Schalit case with Assad – Middle East".[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ "External lecturers". Department of Political Science, University of Innsbruck. Archived from the original on 16 October 2017. Retrieved 28 February 2017.
  7. ^ "Austria president sweeps to victory". Al Jazeera. 25 April 2010. Retrieved 25 April 2010.
  8. ^ "Gulf Times- Qatar's top-selling English daily newspaper - Homepage". www.gulf-times.com. Archived from the original on 2 June 2010.
  9. ^ Bundespräsident (8 September 2022). ""Internationale Zusammenarbeit ist angesichts der aktuellen Herausforderungen wichtiger denn je!"". www.bundespraesident.at (in German). Retrieved 1 May 2023.
  10. ^ "President of Austria Visits ESO in Santiago". ESO Announcements. Retrieved 8 December 2012.
  11. ^ "Bundespräsident.at: "Es kann auch das Standesamt sein" profil". www.bundespraesident.at. Archived from the original on 10 July 2018. Retrieved 12 April 2012.
  12. ^ "Former ÖVP General Secretary Sixtus Lanner died at the age of 88". Der Standard (in Austrian German). 14 July 2022. Retrieved 19 July 2022.
  13. ^ a b Portuguese President's website Archived 17 January 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ Lithuanian Presidency Archived 19 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine, Lithuanian Orders searching form
  15. ^ "L'actualité des royautés, "Henri et Maria Teresa en Autriche"" (in French). Archived from the original on 17 October 2013. Retrieved 2 July 2013.
  16. ^ Republikes, Presidenti i. "Website Zyrtar". president.al. Archived from the original on 7 August 2016. Retrieved 3 June 2016.

Further reading

Political offices
Preceded by President of the National Council
Succeeded by
Preceded by President of Austria
Succeeded by