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2004-04-23

Final campaign statement 

..for an Austrian presidential campaign that has suffered from too much smoke where there is little fire. In a way, it is civilised democratic politics at its best: a huge public discussion (at least in terms of quantity of media coverage) about an office where it makes little practical difference who is the office-holder. This should open a space for elaborate public debates about many issues, which has hardly been the case. A few words have been said about Austrian neutrality and about pension reform, but really nothing new. I feel that there has been a lack of candidates, by which I do not want to imply something negative about the two candidates who will be on the ballot. But for an election like this, I would have preferred to see something like the 150 candidates who were on the ballot for the Californian Recall election last autumn. A few of them should have been offered by each of the parties in parliament, and the rest independents representing a large spectrum of Austrian society. The winning candidate should be the one who most people believe will add something interesting to the country's political system, while also being able to fulfil the formal duties of the president sufficiently well.

I will vote for Heinz Fischer, as I wrote in an earlier post. I hope he takes my vote as an encouragement to explore new paths in his political thinking and in his public statements, rather than just repeating his good old credo over and over. If he chooses the latter, he might become an unbearable bore - please don't.


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