The presidential election has reached its final round. Two candidates still have the chance of becoming the new Austrian head of state. However, there will be a very special debut this time.

Der Sitz des Gewinners der Bundespräsidentenwahl

The Federal President is the head of state in Austria and represents the country in external matters. He can conclude international treaties, appoint and dismiss the Federal Chancellor, dissolve the National Council, bestow decorations and pardon prisoners. Other areas of his work include, at least formally, the supreme command of the Austrian Armed Forces.

In actual fact, the Federal President’s legal capacity is limited. In order to act, he often needs the Federal Government’s or a Federal Minister’s proposal and the countersignature of the Federal Chancellor or a Federal Minister.

For 12 years, Heinz Fischer (SPÖ = Sozialdemokratische Partei Österreichs / Social Democratic Party of Austria) has been Austria’s Federal President. After completion of his first six-year term, he was re-elected for another six years. On Sunday, May 22, 2016 the decision about his succession will take place.

The candidates for the presidential election in 2016

More than 4 million Austrian citizens voted for their personal favourite on April 24, 2016. But who can even run for this office? The person needs to be entitled to vote for the National Council and be older than 35 years. Furthermore, the person must be proposed as a candidate and collect at least 6.000 declarations of support. Only those who achieve these requirements can stand for election.

In the end, a total of six people were up for election and the voters made the following decision in the first round of voting:

  • 35,1% voted for Norbert Hofer (FPÖ = Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs / Freedom Party of Austria)
  • 21,3% voted for Alexander Van der Bellen (independent, supported by GRÜNE / Austrian Green Party)
  • 18,9% voted for Irmgard Griss (independent; she was organizationally supported by NEOS = Das Neue Österreich und Liberales Forum / The New Austria and Liberal Forum)
  • 11,3% voted for Rudolf Hundstorfer (SPÖ = Sozialdemokratische Partei Österreichs / Social Democratic Party of Austria)
  • 11,1% voted for Andreas Khol (ÖVP = Österreichische Volkspartei / Austrian People’s Party)
  • 2,3% voted for Richard Lugner (independent)

Find an overview of Austria’s largest parties here!

Bundespräsidentenwahl in Österreich *** presidential election

Photo: Furfur [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

The candidate who receives a majority of all votes cast, becomes the next Federal President. This goal was not achieved in the first ballot. Therefore, there will be a second ballot between the two candidates with the most votes, Nobert Hofer and Alexander Van der Bellen, on Sunday, May 22.

One thing is sure to make a debut: For the first time in the history of the Second Republic, there is no representative of the two (former) major political parties SPÖ and ÖVP in the run-off election. Hofer or Van der Bellen will succeed Heinz Fischer (SPÖ) as Austria’s Federal President. It remains to be seen who of the two candidates will be successful.

Find more information about the presidential election here: