Alexander Van der Bellen

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For his grandfather, the Russian liberal politician, see Aleksander von der Bellen.
Alexander Van der Bellen
Alexander Van der Bellen 2016 (cropped).jpg
Leader of the The Greens – The Green Alternative
In office
13 December 1997 – 3 October 2008
Preceded by Christoph Chorherr
Succeeded by Eva Glawischnig-Piesczek
Personal details
Born (1944-01-18) 18 January 1944 (age 72)
Vienna, Germany (now Austria)
Political party The Greens – The Green Alternative (1992–present)
Other political
affiliations
Social Democratic Party (Before 1992)
Spouse(s) Brigitte (Divorced)
Doris Schmidauer (2015–present)
Children 2 sons (with Brigitte)
Alma mater University of Innsbruck

Alexander Van der Bellen (German pronunciation: [ˌalɛˈksandɐ fan dɛɐ̯ ˈbɛlən]; born 18 January 1944), known informally as Sascha, is an Austrian politician and economist who was briefly President-elect of Austria.

Van der Bellen is a retired professor of economics at the University of Vienna. A member of the Austrian Green Party, he served as a member of the National Council from 1994 to 2012, and was chairman of the parliamentary club and federal spokesperson of his party from 1997 to 2008.[1][2] He ran as a nominally independent candidate supported by the Green Party in the 2016 presidential election, and finished second out of six in the first round before winning the second round against Norbert Hofer, a member of the Freedom Party of Austria.[3] On 1 July, before he was sworn into office, the results of the second round of voting were annulled by the Constitutional Court of Austria, requiring the election to be re-held.[4]

Van der Bellen supports green and social liberal policies. He is supportive of the European Union and advocates European federalism.[5]

Family background[edit]

Alexander Van der Bellen, who is known privately by the nickname Sascha (a Russian diminutive of Alexander),[6] was born in Vienna, to an aristocratic Russian-born father of mixed Baltic German, Dutch, and Estonian descent, Alexander Konstantin (1898–1966),[7][8] and an Estonian mother, Alma (née Siibold [Siebold, Sieboldt]; 1907–1993), who were both refugees from Stalinism. His parents successively held Russian, Estonian, and Austrian citizenship.

The Van der Bellen surname is believed to originate from a Dutch glazier who emigrated from the Netherlands to the Russian Empire around 1763.[8] In Russia the Van der Bellen family was ennobled and belonged to the affluent gentry of the Pskov area, and Alexander Van der Bellen's grandfather, Aleksander von der Bellen (1859–1924), was a liberal politician who was head of the local government of Pskov before 1918, when the Imperial German Army invaded the Pskov area during the Russian Civil War. In the summer of 1919, when Pskov was briefly occupied by the Estonian Army, Van der Bellen's grandparents, father and uncles fled the advancing Bolshevik Red Army and settled in the newly independent Estonia.[8] The surname was spelled von der Bellen in Imperial Russia, but the family had to change it to Van der Bellen (alternatively spelled Van-Der-Bellen) in the Republic of Estonia, where all privileges of the nobility had been abolished, and the use of the German particle von as an indicator of noble origin in surnames, as was common among Russian nobles, was prohibited by law.[9]

In 1931, Van der Bellen's divorced father, Alexander Van der Bellen, who was a banker, married his second wife, Alma Siebold, a native-born Estonian citizen. He acquired naturalised Estonian citizenship in 1934.[10] After Estonia was invaded by the Soviet Union in 1940, the couple resettled to Germany and ended up in a refugee camp in Werneck in poverty-stricken circumstances. They eventually settled in Vienna, where their son was born, before again fleeing the Red Army and arriving in Tyrol, where Alexander Van der Bellen spent his childhood.[1] He has described himself as a "child of refugees".[8]

Like his parents, Alexander Van der Bellen was originally an Estonian citizen, although Estonia was at that point under Soviet occupation, and they were thus for practical purposes stateless. He was granted Austrian citizenship in 1958, together with his parents. Although his parents spoke Russian with each other, Alexander Van der Bellen only learned a few words of Russian. He explained that his parents "wanted to avoid everything that indicated that they were refugees."[8]

Academic career[edit]

In 1962, he graduated from the Akademisches Gymnasium in Innsbruck. He studied economics at the University of Innsbruck and received a doctorate in 1970. From 1968 to 1970 he worked as an assistant at the Institut für Finanzwissenschaft of the University of Innsbruck, and from 1972 to 1974 at the Internationales Institut für Management und Verwaltung in Berlin.[11] He achieved his habilitation in 1975.

In 1976, he was appointed associate professor at the University of Innsbruck. In 1980, he became professor of economics at the University of Vienna. Subsequently, he took over the chair for economics there. From 1990 to 1994 he was dean of the faculty for social sciences and economics at the University of Vienna.[12]

Van der Bellen is an expert on planning and financing processes in the public sector, infrastructure financing, fiscal policy, public expenditure, government regulation policy, public enterprises and environmental and transport policy.

Political career[edit]

Alexander Van der Bellen.

A former member of the Social Democratic Party,[13] Van der Bellen became Member of the National Council of Austria (Nationalrat) for the Austrian Green Party in 1994.[1] On 13 December 1997 he became their federal spokesperson,[14][15] and in 1999 became chairman of the parliamentary party of the Greens in the National Council.[1] He resigned after the September 2008 election, when the Greens lost votes for the first time in a decade.[2] In 2010 he became Commissioner of the City of Vienna for Universities and Research,[16] and in 2012 he left Parliament and joined the Vienna City Council.[17]

Van der Bellen is strongly supportive of the European Union, and advocated European federalism in a 2015 book.[5]

2016 election[edit]

Van der Bellen ran as a nominally independent candidate supported by the Green Party in the 2016 presidential election,[18] and finished second in the first round before winning the second round against right-wing Freedom Party candidate Norbert Hofer.[3] In the close second round Van der Bellen won 50.3% of the votes cast (2,254,484) to Norbert Hofer's 49.7% (2,223,458).[19]

The result would have made him the first nationally elected European head of state with a green background: in 2015, Raimonds Vējonis of the Latvian Green Party became that nation's president through an indirect election.[20]

On 1 July, a week before he was to take office, the results of the second round of voting were annulled by the Constitutional Court of Austria, requiring the election to be re-held.[4]

Personal life[edit]

Van der Bellen is in his second marriage and has two adult sons with his first wife.

He was raised in the Lutheran religion, but has ceased to practice it or espouse a belief in God; however, he professes himself a secular follower of the moral precepts of the New Testament.[21]

Awards[edit]

In May 2004, Van der Bellen received the Grand Decoration of Honour in Gold with Star for services to the Austrian republic.[22][23]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Biographical data". Die Grünen. Archived from the original on 14 September 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-19. 
  2. ^ a b "Van der Bellen sichtlich bewegt". 
  3. ^ a b "Austria presidential election result: Alexander Van der Bellelosess over far-right candidate Norbert Hofer". The Independent. 23 May 2016. 
  4. ^ a b Oltermann, Philip (1 July 2016). "Austrian presidential election result overturned and must be held again". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 July 2016. 
  5. ^ a b "Die Grünen - "Wenn es die EU nicht gäbe, müsste man sie erfinden"". Die Grünen. 
  6. ^ ""Doppelte" Freude in der Heimat von Van der Bellens Eltern" (in German). Der Standard. May 24, 2016. Retrieved May 24, 2016. 
  7. ^ Tallinn City Archives (Tallinna Linnaarhiiv)
  8. ^ a b c d e "Alexander Van der Bellen: Ein Flüchtlingskind". Die Zeit (in German). 28 March 2016. 
  9. ^ "Alexander Van der Bellen. Zielony prezydent Austrii z estońskimi korzeniami". Przegląd Bałtycki. 
  10. ^ TYDEN; www.tyden.cz; e-mail: webmaster@tyden.cz. "Rakouským prezidentem bude potomek uprchlíků z Ruska". TÝDEN.cz. 
  11. ^ "Alexander Van der Bellen". Aeiou Encyclopedia (in German). [dead link]
  12. ^ "Dr. Alexander Van der Bellen". Who is who in the Austrian Parliament (in German). Republic of Austria. Retrieved 25 March 2016. 
  13. ^ "Fischer končí – Rakousko volí novou hlavu státu". Novinky.cz. 
  14. ^ "Die Karriere des Alexander Van der Bellen" [The career of Alexander Van der Bellen]. Wiener Zeitung (in German). 8 January 2016. Retrieved 23 May 2016. 
  15. ^ "Partei: Grüne" [Party: Green]. Wien-Konkret (in German). Retrieved 23 May 2016. 
  16. ^ "Wiener Uni-Beauftragter stellt Ziele vor: Van der Bellen will "reden, reden, reden" (Vienna Commissioner for Universities presents his Goals)". 2011-02-23. Retrieved 2014-10-23. 
  17. ^ "Alexander Van der Bellen: Abschied aus dem Nationalrat". Kleine Zeitung (in German). 2012-07-06. Retrieved 2014-10-23. Alexander "Sascha" Van der Bellen verlässt den Nationalrat und wechselt in den Wiener Gemeinderat. (Alexander "Sascha" Van der Bellen leaving National Council of Austria (Nationalrat) to join Vienna City Council) 
  18. ^ "Van der Bellen kandidiert zur Präsidentschaftswahl" (in German). der Standard. 2016-01-08. Retrieved 2016-01-08. 
  19. ^ Smale, Alison (2016-05-23). "Austrian Far-Right Candidate Norbert Hofer Narrowly Loses Presidential Vote". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-05-24. 
  20. ^ "Austria elects Green candidate as president in narrow defeat for far right". The Guardian. 23 May 2016. Retrieved 16 June 2016. 
  21. ^ "Alexander Van der Bellen zu Gast im ORF OÖ". Radio Oberösterreich (in German). 2016-04-19. Retrieved 2016-05-23. Ich bin evangelisch getauft und bin dann aus Ärger über meinen lokalen Pfarrer aus der Kirche ausgetreten. [...] Ich sage immer dazu: Den Glaube an den einen Gott habe ich verloren, aber ich glaube an die Botschaft oder die Vision, was das Neue Testament ausmacht, also inklusive der Bergpredigt, der Nächstenliebe und an alles, was das zwischenmenschliche Zusammenleben ausmacht. (I was baptized Protestant and left the Church out of anger with my local pastor. [...] I always say this: the belief in the one God, I lost, but I believe in the message or the vision of what constitutes the New Testament, ie. including the Sermon on the Mount, charity and everything that makes for coexistence between people.) 
  22. ^ "Ehrenzeichen für verdiente Mandatarinnen" (in German). Austrian Parliament. 2004-05-04. Retrieved 2008-12-18. 
  23. ^ "Reply to a parliamentary question about the Decoration of Honour" (pdf) (in German). p. 1644. Retrieved November 2012.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Christoph Chorherr
Leader of the The Greens – The Green Alternative
1997–2008
Succeeded by
Eva Glawischnig-Piesczek