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austrian presidential election who is van der bellen

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Opening of the seats in Austria for the presidential elections. Called to the polls, Sunday October 9, 6,363,489 citizens have the right to vote. The favorite for re-election is the outgoing head of state, Alexander Van der Bellen.

Seventy-eight-year-old Viennese with a Russian father and an Estonian mother who fled Russia, Van der Bellen challenges 6 other candidates. According to pollster forecasts, he could qualify in the first round, thus avoiding the November election. It must exceed 50% of the consents. During the campaign, “Sasha”, as many Austrians call the outgoing head of state, in his political career was first a socialist and then an ecologist. Six years ago, he won the race for the Hofburg (Vienna’s Quirinal) in the poll against ultra-nationalist Norbert Hofer by less than 350,000 votes. Van der Bellen placed the campaign for his re-election under the banner of values ​​particularly dear to Austria: “Stability, common sense and cohesion in times of instability”.

Photo Ansa / Epa Christian Bruna

These slogans seem quite appropriate, considering that Austria, a traditionally politically stable country, has seen more than 5 chancellors during the six years of Van der Bellen’s presidency. Who attended the swearing in of dozens of ministers during his tenure. The corruption scandals of the conservative People’s Party (OeVP) and the FPOe (ultranationalists) provoked a chain of government crises, early elections and other falls of the executive.

Austria and the Covid

During all these political storms, Alexander Van der Bellen always appeared as a solid figure of reference, well beyond the traditional ceremonial role of the presidency in Austria. During the first two years of the Covid pandemic, for example, “Sasha” tried to act as a cohesive element in a society already divided by the 2016 presidential elections and as the government was about to introduce compulsory vaccine. Van der Bellen renamed as an independent. The Greens (his former party), the Social Democrats and the Neo Liberals support him. A re-election is therefore very likely, but it remains to be seen whether his victory will come in the first round or whether a ballot will be necessary.

The President of the Republic Sergio Mattarella with the Federal President of the Republic of Austria Alexander Van der Bellen, on September 14, 2022 in Rome. Photo Ansa / Quirinale Paolo Giandotti

The challengers

Over the past month, according to the polls, Van der Bellen has jumped from 45% to 58%: a jump of almost 15 percentage points. Of the five parties represented in the Austrian Parliament, only the FPOe, an ultra-nationalist party, has decided to appoint a jurist and former parliamentarian: Walter Rosenkranz. The other candidates for the presidency are Dominik Wlazny, known as Marco Pogo, the left-wing comedian leader of the Bierpartei (beer party). Michael Brunner of the no vax MFG party. Gerald Grosz, former leader of the now defunct far-right party BZOe, the lawyer Tassilo Wallentin who is trying to muster the votes of the electorate of both the FPOe and the OeVP and Heinrich Staudinger, whom the polls give to 1 %.

Dominik Wlazny, Beer Party candidate. Photo Ansa / Epa Christian Bruna

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