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Benita Ferrero-Waldner

Ferrero-Waldner in her office
during a Tag der offenen Tür (2003)
Benita Ferrero-Waldner (born September 5, 1948) is an Austrian diplomat and politician.

Born Benita Waldner in Salzburg, she took her Matura exams in 1966 and then studied law, receiving a doctorate from the University of Salzburg in 1970. Until 1983 she worked in the private sector. Only in 1984 did she enter the diplomatic service.

From 1995 till 2000 she served as Staatssekretärin in two governments led by Social Democrats Franz Vranitzky and Viktor Klima. When Wolfgang Schüssel became Chancellor of Austria early in 2000 he made Ferrero-Waldner his Minister for Foreign Affairs, a position she has held ever since.

In January 2004 it was announced that Ferrero-Waldner would run for Federal President to succeed Thomas Klestil in July 2004. Her candidature is supported by the Austrian People's Party; her main opponent is Heinz Fischer.

Ferrero-Waldner and her husband
From 1974 till 1983 Waldner was married to Wolfgang Sterr, a Bavarian high school teacher. They got a divorce, and in 1993 Waldner married Francisco Ferrero Campos, who teaches Spanish and Latin American literature at the University of Vienna. In December 2003, Ferrero-Waldner married her husband again in church, after his previous marriage had finally been annulled. Although the wedding took place in a very private ceremony, the news was immediately leaked to the press. This, some of Ferrero-Waldner's critics claim, was done on purpose as a tactical move to attract potential voters (the Austrian Federal President is elected by the people), as Austria is still a predominantly Catholic country rooted in tradition. The couple do not have any children.

Ferrero-Waldner's determinedly friendly smile has earned her the nickname Ferrero-Küsschen ("Ferrero Kiss"), after a sweet similar to Ferrero Rocher, produced by Ferrero for the German, Swiss and Austrian markets.