Heinz Fischer, a centrist politician committed to the welfare state and Austrian neutrality, was elected to the largely ceremonial presidency in April 2004 and again 2010.
In the 2010 poll he warded off a challenge by Barbara Rosenkranz of the anti-foreigner and anti-European Union Freedom.
He has spent most of his life in politics. After graduating with a law degree from the University of Vienna in 1961, he took a position in the Social Democratic Party (SPO), entering parliament as a deputy in 1971 and staying on until 2004.
During this time, he served as science and research minister between 1983 and 1987, before being elected parliamentary president in 1990. He was re-elected three times.
Between 1992 and 2004, he was also a vice-president of the European Socialist Party.
Once in office, he officially renounced any party membership to become independent.