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The guarantee for liberal democracy

After what feels like an eternity Austria finally has a new federal president. The timing could not be better for a liberal democrat to take up the highest office of the Republic of Austria, right in the heart of Europe.
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Van der Bellen

Alexander Van der Bellen and Independence

“The secret of freedom is courage.”

Even Pericles would have looked favourably upon Alexander Van der Bellen. Van der Bellen is courageous. His inner conviction has led him to stand as a candidate once again for the highest office in the land and to devote his life to public service for the Republic of Austria. He will stand as an independent coming from the Green Party. Or as I would put it as an independent spirit.

The reactions to Van der Bellen’s independent candidacy show once more how little digitization has entered public consciousness. Open innovation, which is increasingly gaining traction in the economy, remains foreign to realm of politics. The idea that someone has stature, is independent, has an inner freedom of spirit and can reach out to others across the political divide giving them courage and is a viable candidate for them, is something that is seldom recognized because of political ignorance. It is attractive to stay comfortably in the “mediocrity trap” (Hengstenschläger) and to risk nothing by putting your head above the parapet. Those people who are stuck in the analogue world of thought and of political unimaginativeness discredit independent candidates, who stand for a new form of society, throw traditional approaches overboard and take new and intellectually novel challenges upon themselves. Social Media reinforces old ways of thinking and behaving.

Van der Bellen’s candidacy: open innovation

The Van der Bellen candidacy represents a turning point:

  • Yes, it is supported by the Greens. Why should the Greens not set such a sign of solidarity?
  • Yes, the word “independent” was not the best one in this case because it was temporally occupied by Irmgard Griss. But how could a person like Alexander van der Bellen otherwise be described?
  • Van der Bellen has always demonstrated in the course of his political career that he is not an apparatchik. His attitude has repeatedly stirred up “his” party. He often made speeches in the National Assembly that support a strong parliamentary system and centre-liberal approaches. Liberalism is freedom and independence. A fact that many choose to ignore and also fear.
  • Van der Bellen is the first political candidate in the sense of open innovation. He is not obliged to follow classic party programmes and leaves much content and many ideas as they are. This approach is immediately attacked as fickleness rather than being seen as Van der Bellen’s open innovation approach.
  • The most important thing for me is that Van der Bellen makes the classic zoon politikon, modelled on Plato and Aristotle, once again  acceptable to the Imperial Palace where the Austrian president resides. Not because President Fischer and his predecessors did also not ascribe to this but because this has completely been lost in the policy making of recent years. This is although it must be said that Van der Bellen does not identify himself as a dedicated follower of Plato in his book “The Art of Freedom”.

His independent spirit, his intellect, his experience in the National Parliament, his support for the European Union, his commitment to parliamentarianism and to the eco-social market economy in his role as farsighted economist have prompted me to join his support committee. This is also because I can once again outwardly be my independent self.

Alexander van der Bellen is the first politician who heads an open innovation campaign and also has a corresponding vision for it. Perhaps he calls open innovation by another name but it stands for change.

Freedom and independence of mind and thinking are essential in such a process. Alexander van der Bellen will accompany us “courageously into these new times.” I trust him and believe that he will make something great out of the change.