This writeup alludes to the first writeup at Bundespräsident by sauron.
I have to make some corrections and an update concerning
The Austrian President
"he can be reelected only once" - partly true, he can be reelected only once in a row! This means that if he held the office for two legislative terms (one term lasts six years, not five as sauron claimed) he is not allowed to run for reelection for a second time, but after someone else was president for at least one term he is allowed to offer himself as a candidate again.
Another mistake in the above writeup: The Bundespräsident is in fact never able to dissolve Parliament! Only the three chairmen of the Parliament, which are in fact elected by the members of the Parliament, are able to do so.
The president is also not able to appoint cabinet members. There is one gross difference between the purpose of the president in Germany/Austria and, for example, the United States: While in the USA the president seems to make all decisions, therefore being a nearly totalitarian leader (I know that it's not this way, but that's the way it seems and what plenty of other people on earth believe! Of course we know that you have a Senate (with two parties....), but does it ever decide anything?), in Austria the president is not capable of making any decisions other than saying "no", therefore rejecting decisions made by the parliament he's not able to influence. The intention is that this position acts as a controlling body who checks whether the bills that are passed don't dissent with agreements or treaties the state has signed/is part of.
Another important role is of course diplomatic representation of the state in an evenhanded way (Meeting the president is less biased than meeting the Federal Chancellor, because he is also the head of the strongest party).
And the promised update:
In the presidential election that took place on April 25, 2004 only two candidates campaigned: Heinz Fischer, currently still chairmain of the Austrian Parliament, nominated by the SPÖ (Social Democrats) and foreign minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner, nominated by the ÖVP (Conservative Party). Election result:
You do not have to be member of a party, everybody fulfilling the following conditions can become a candidate:
To be elected you need a simple majority, if there are three or more candidates and noone achieves more than 50% in the first ballot there is a second one with the two candidates who had the most votes in the first one.