Alexander van der Bellen
Alexander van der Bellen was a Green Party member of parliament for 18 years, and then a Vienna city councillor. He ran for President as an independent, although his campaign was financially backed by the Green Party and widely supported by a number of other parties who were keen to prevent Norbert Hofer from being elected.
Mr van der Bellen has described himself as a ‘child of immigrants’: his father was born in Russia to a family descended from Dutch immigrants, and his mother was born in Estonia. Both parents fled Estonia in 1940 following the Soviet invasion, moving first to Germany and eventually settling in Austria where Alexander was born.
Mr van der Bellen has opposed the Austrian government’s decision to impose a limit on how many asylum-seekers it will allow into the country. If elected, he has said he would refuse on principle to swear in any government led by Mr Hofer’s far-Right Freedom Party.
Questions were put to this candidate by Simon Anholt:
SA: If you are elected, what will you do for the rest of us, around the world?
AVDB: The political challenges we are facing on a gobal scale in the pursuit of peace and security have grown enormously over the past few years. If I am elected president of the Republic of Austria I see myself as a mediator and as someone who can build bridges in international politics. I consider the alleviation of poverty and the promotion of justice issues of vital importance. I want Austria to take an active role in the promotion of peace and to make a contribution by providing humanitarian aid. Besides, being aware of the crucial significance of climate protection for world peace, I would like to see Vienna as a pioneer and a hub of successful climate policy.
SA: What is your vision for your country's role in the world?
AVDB: Austria is a neutral country and one of the four UN headquarters is situated in Vienna. I see Austria's role as a mediator gaining in importance. Austria is neutral grounds for peace negotiations, a place where conflicting parties can enter into a dialogue and make progress towards the achievement of peace and security. Together, we need to intensify our diplomatic efforts so people in crisis-stricken countries will be given hope and new prospects for the future.