Monday, 23 May 2016

Austria has a new President and he's Estonian!

Austrians saw a major shake-up in their recent presidential election. Neither of the two main parties secured enough votes to field candidates and the two main contenders came from relative political obscurity. The winner won by an extraordinarily narrow margin of 0.6%.  Independent candidate Alexander Van der Bellen was declared the winner today and will become the new President of Austria. There hasn't been an Independent leader in Austria since the Second World War. 

People abroad may be unaware of Van der Bellen's Estonian background. His mother was Estonian and his father's family of Dutch origin had lived in Russia until the Russian revolution in 1917, after which they fled to newly independent Estonia. His father Alexander became an Estonian citizen in 1934 and his family would probably have remained living there had it not been for the invasion and annexation of Estonia by the Soviet Union in 1941. Like many Estonian families who fled their country due the Soviet occupation, Van der Bellen's family spent several years living in a displaced persons camp (DP camp) before making a new life elsewhere. 

Alexander Van der Bellen is a retired economics professor from the University of Vienna who then went on to pursue a career in politics. He was a member of the Green Party before becoming an Independent.

Alexander's mother lived in Graniidi Street.

To learn more click here