Van der Bellen said on Wednesday evening on the ORF program “20 questions” that he would “not try to promote an anti-European party, a party that does not condemn Russia’s war against Ukraine, through my measures”. He not only takes the oath of office to the constitution, but is also committed to his conscience.
The Federal President passed on the question of whether that meant that he would not automatically entrust Kickl with the formation of a government, even if the FPÖ came first in the National Council elections – with the words that Kickl should be asked and not him, “whether it’s right was to carry out a raid against his own house, against the Ministry of the Interior, which led to nothing, except that the foreign intelligence services lost all trust in Austria and and and. Ask him, not me.”
The President – 20 questions for Alexander Van der Bellen
Susanne Schnabl (ORF) and Hanno Settele (ORF) visit the Federal President and ask him 20 very different questions. How does the new old Federal President intend to spend his second term in office, what does he say about the state of the country and the state of politics and in the midst of unprecedented crises, what does he expect, what role does he want to play and how does the office as changed after the first six years? Schnabl and Settele bring their own, mobile and minimalist studio to the Hofburg, because nothing should distract from their conversation – neither the imperial atmosphere nor studio furniture or cameras moving around.
“Friendship is poison”
Strictly speaking, the constitution does not state that the party with the most votes must be given the task of forming a government. But it is inside that the Federal President appoints the chancellor – in his “personal decision”. He doesn’t need a proposal for that, it’s “one of the very, very few points on which the Federal President is free to make his decision”.
“Yes, sure, that’s what turned out to be based on the chat logs,” said Van der Bellen when asked whether Austria had a corruption problem. He not only called for legal action – he welcomed the coalition agreement to close the gap in criminal law – but also for a “change of attitude”. The “friendship economy” that has become visible in the chat logs – “as we so euphemistically call it in Austria” – must “really stop, that’s a poison”.
The government should discuss what can still be implemented from the anti-corruption referendum before the election. He himself should have communicated more with “those chat stories,” Van der Bellen conceded. There was “not entirely wrongly the impression that I was holding myself back too much”.
relationship with chancellors
It was also about the relationship between the Federal President and the heads of government. With ÖVP ex-chancellor Sebastian Kurz – who was “famous, some say notorious for his attempts at message control” – he had had some arguments, but “you shouldn’t be sensitive, that’s part of politics”. With the current Chancellor Karl Nehammer (ÖVP) he had “developed a very good working relationship over time”.
Van der Bellen was very positive about the work done by the ÖVP-Green coalition to alleviate the consequences of the crisis. The government was “not idle”, which is why the catastrophes feared at the beginning of the Ukraine war – lack of gas and electricity, not being able to heat etc. – did not occur. However, the communication of the numerous measures with which the consequences of inflation were cushioned was unsuccessful.
Tempo 100 “really reasonable”
Van der Bellen was emotional about the climate crisis. He not only vehemently called for more speed in countermeasures, but also sharply opposed those who call activists “terrorists” – without naming the FPÖ. Doing this is “tastelessness of the first order” because “these people use glue, a terrorist uses explosives”. Van der Bellen also clearly opposed the demand for higher penalties for blockages raised by the governor Johanna Mikl-Leitner (ÖVP) in the run-up to the Lower Austrian state elections: “I think that’s way overshooting the mark.” He considered 100 km/h to be “really reasonable”. on the highway.
FPÖ boss Kickl reacted immediately via Facebook. Apparently, the will of the voters should not decide when it comes to forming a government, “but the personal arbitrariness of an individual person,” he posted. And turned against the Federal President’s critical comments on the FPÖ: “To be moral, it is enough to condemn Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine. All other wars of aggression are apparently not a problem at all,” Kickl wrote, as well as: “And you can only be friendly to the EU, otherwise you are an enemy of Europe.”
Political scientist on the Van der Bellen interview
Political scientist Kathrin Stainer-Hämmerle talks about the interview with Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen, in which he clearly distances himself from FPÖ leader Herbert Kickl.
Ceremony on Thursday
On Thursday, around 1,000 people are invited to the historic chamber of parliament to attend the ceremony of van der Bellen’s swearing-in. The Federal President will also give a 20-minute speech to the guests. Next to him, President of the National Council Wolfgang Sobotka (ÖVP) and the Chairman of the Federal Council, Günter Kovacs (SPÖ), have their say.
Following the parliamentary part, there will be a military ceremony for the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces with a flag parade and a commemoration of the dead at Heldenplatz. The celebrations will continue with a reception from Van der Bellen’s home state of Tyrol.