Norbert Hofer (1971 – )
FPÖ Federal Party Chairman from 2019 to 2021
Third President of the National Council from 2013 until 2017 and since 2019
Federal Minister for Transport, Innovation and Technology from 2017 to 2019
FPÖ Federal presidential candidate 2016
Norbert Hofer was FPÖ federal party chairman from 2019 to 2021. He is currently Third President of the Austrian National Council. He is considered an expert on social and disability policy. He was the Freedom Party’s 2016 presidential election candidate and won the first round, only to be narrowly defeated by his opponent at the run-off vote. At this final ballot, approximately 2.12 million Austrians cast their vote for Norbert Hofer and ensured the best nationwide result that has to date been achieved by a Freedom Party candidate.
Norbert Hofer was born in Vorau, Styria, on 2 March 1971 and grew up with three siblings in Pinkafeld, Burgenland. His father, Gerwald Hofer, was a businessman. Hofer graduated from high school in 1990, at the Higher Federal Technical Institute for Aeronautics in Eisenstadt. Having then completed his military service, he worked as a systems engineer at an Austrian airline.
Hofer’s political involvement commenced in 1994. His first position was as organisation officer of the Freedom Party Ring of Entrepreneurs and in 1995 became chairman of the FPÖ Eisenstadt, the provincial capital of Burgenland. He retained this position until 2016. From 1996 until 2007 Hofer was provincial party secretary of the FPÖ Burgenland and from 1997 until 2007, he was an FPÖ member of Eisenstadt’s municipal council.
Norbert Hofer is a passionate air sports enthusiast, who had a serious accident in 2003, when he crashed his paraglider and suffered severe spinal injuries. Hofer has since suffered from incomplete paraplegia syndrome.
Hofer returned to Burgenland politics in February 2004. At the 27th regular FPÖ federal party conference of April 2005, he was elected deputy FPÖ federal party chairman. After the 2006 National Council election, Hofer also entered the National Council and became deputy chairman of the FPÖ parliamentary party there. In light of his severe accident, Norbert Hofer became increasingly involved in disability policy and took up the role of the Freedom Party’s National Council disability spokesman. Hofer also came to play a leading role in shaping the policy orientation of the FPÖ and was responsible for the Freedom Party’s new programme, which was approved in June 2011, at the FPÖ’s 30th regular federal party conference, held in Graz.
Following the 2013 National Council election, Norbert Hofer was elected Third President of the National Council and recognised for the sovereign manner in which he exercised that role, as well as for his level-headedness as Third President of the National Council. These were some of the reasons why Norbert Hofer was in early 2016 revealed by FPÖ federal party leader, Heinz-Christian Strache, as the Freedom Party’s surprise candidate for the forthcoming federal presidential election.
Also quite surprising was Norbert Hofer’s result at the federal presidential election of 24 April 2016: he came first, with the support of approximately 1.5 million voters, which amounted to 35.05 per cent of the vote. In second place was the Greens’ candidate, Alexander van der Bellen, who received 21.34 per cent of the vote. Viewed historically, Norbert Hofer’s success was the best result the Freedom Party had ever obtained in a nationwide election. At the run-off ballot on 4 December 2016, however, Norbert Hofer’s 46.21 per cent meant he was defeated by Alexander van der Bellen, who garnered 53.79 per cent and thus became the new Federal President.
Following the FPÖ’s success at the 2017 National Council election, at which the Freedom Party was able to reduce the vote gap to the SPÖ and ÖVP, coalition negotiations were held between the ÖVP and the FPÖ. In the black-blue government coalition which resulted from those negotiations, Norbert Hofer was on 18 December 2017 sworn in as Federal Minister for Transport, Innovation and Technology.
In May 2019, the coalition between the ÖVP and FPÖ was terminated as a result of the “Ibiza-Affair” that centred on former FPÖ federal party chairman Heinz-Christian Strache. At the 33rd regular FPÖ federal party conference, held in Graz in September 2019, Norbert Hofer was elected the new FPÖ federal party chairman by 98.25 per cent of the party delegates. As the FPÖ’s lead candidate Hofer thereupon spearheaded the party’s campaign for the National Council election of 29 September 2019 and achieved 16.17 per cent of the vote. He re-entered the Austrian National Council and in October 2019 was re-elected Third President of the National Council, having received 123 of the 166 valid votes cast by National Council members. At the FPÖ Burgenland’s provincial party conference of March 2020, Norbert Hofer was elected as the new provincial party chairman, yet in October 2020 he handed over this position to Alexander Petschnig. In June 2021, he resigned from the post of FPÖ federal party chairman.
Main political positions
Deputy FPÖ Federal Party Chairman
Deputy Provincial Party Chairman, FPÖ Burgenland
Deputy Chairman of the FPÖ Parliamentary Party in the National Council
Third President of the National Council
Federal Minister for Transport, Innovation and Technology
FPÖ Federal Party Chairman
Third President of the National Council
- Norbert Hofer on the FPÖ’s web pages: https://www.fpoe.at/team/die-fpoe/bundesparteiobmann/
- Norbert Hofer on Wikipedia: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norbert_Hofer
- Norbert Hofer on the web pages of the Austrian Parliament (including National Council speeches, etc): https://www.parlament.gv.at/WWER/PAD_35521/
- FPÖ federal party conference 2019: Norbert Hofer’s speech: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xutyqwIQqTU
- Norbert Hofer is the new FPÖ federal party chairman: the 2019 FPÖ federal party conference video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuY3OkJyk9g
- Landslide victory for Norbert Hofer - FPÖ-TV-Magazin 28.04.2016: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2dXtWwA1m6E
- 2016 election advertisement: Norbert Hofer will lead Austria into a good future. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0IVFRwWEyjA
- 2013: National Council sworn in - Norbert Hofer is Third President: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGGugrCrgTI
Publications by Norbert Hofer
- Behinderung und Pflegebedürftigkeit in Österreich. Ein Wegweiser [Maßnahmen zur Sicherung einer legalen, leistbaren und praxisnahen Pflege und Betreuung]. 3rd edition. Freiheitliche Akademie, Vienna 2010
- Handbuch freiheitlicher Politik. Ein Leitfaden für Führungsfunktionäre und Mandatsträger der Freiheitlichen Partei Österreichs. 4the edition, FPÖ-Bildungsinstitut, Vienna 2013.