December 5, 2021

Columbus Post

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Communist mayor mixes Austrian politics

Communist Front candidate Elke Kahr (KPÖ) after the municipal council election in Austria.

Erwin Sheriav / ABA / DPA

The conservative ÖVP seemed to be firmly in the saddle in Austria’s second largest city. Now the Communists are coming to the forefront. It seems to be good for kids. They should all have bikes available.

It is the politicians who really help. Elke Garr and two of his comrades from the Communist Party of India (KPÖ) in Cross paid two-thirds each to those in need last year. According to him, 1577 poor people had to vacate their apartments or could not afford anything to eat and were supported by 168,000 euros. This closeness with the citizens is one reason why the Communists, the Greens and the SPÖ on the Cross will rule Austria’s second largest city of about 300,000 in the future.

“This is a rollercoaster of emotions”

Two months after their landslide victory in the local elections with almost 29 percent of the vote Austria Kahr, 60, was elected the first female Communist mayor of a major Austrian city on Wednesday. “It’s a roller coaster of emotions, however.

Otherwise the political sense of KPÖ victory in mostly conservative Austria will not come overnight. According to Manes Weisskircher, a political scientist at the University of Oslo, this is the culmination of a nearly three-decade-long development process. He studied the rise of the KPÖ in the Cross. The party has long understood that it is important to bring about positive improvements in living conditions, he says. About 30 years ago, comrades in Lille, France, urged the KPÖ in Gross to focus fully on the housing issue. This was followed by plans such as Tenant Emergency Number, Commitment to Community Apartments, Financial Assistance to Residents in Legal Disputes and, above all, Always Open Ear.

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“I had 4,000 to 5,000 people in my office hours each year,” says Kahr. She now wants to expand her communication options.

Seikfried Nagal, who was the longtime mayor from the ÖVP, was ousted in the election, showing that the KPÖ is also attracting conservative voters. “Voters say the KPÖ politicizes how it should be. There are no signs of power, no availability at any time, no isolation,” Cross-political scientist Heinz Wasserman told “Troller Dexseeding”.

Kahr has already been the city councilor for housing affairs under the ÖVP government for 16 years and more recently for transportation. The system of proportional representation in the Cross ensures that each party accepts more than ten percent of government responsibility.

“We are not there to build prestigious projects”

The coalition of KPÖ, Greens and SPÖ wants to set new priorities. This includes the campaign to make the bike available to every child. Each family will receive a unique voucher, the amount of which has not yet been determined. Further goals are to build new community apartments and reduce kindergarten fees. According to Kahrin, the suspension of the annual inflation-adjusted fee for water, sewage and garbage disposal in 2022 is one of the first steps to free tenants. Immigrants can rely on guides at more German courses and institutions.

The question of the budget should be fully resolved in a few months, and for the time being the coalition budget will function with tentativeness. “We do not want to create decent plans, we want to emotionally design the living space on the cross,” said Deputy Mayor Judith Schwentner (Greens).

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“Stollingrass” to attract attention

The KPÖ in Cross is now attracting more attention than ever. After the election, the word “Stalinrose” spread rapidly on social media. Kahr’s general political statements also receive much attention. Compared to a Croatian newspaper, Joseph Pros Tito (1892-1980), a former dictator of Yugoslavia, and he saw many positive words about his movement in the Non-Aligned Movement. It immediately met with criticism.

Do leftists in general have lessons to learn from the Graz KPÖ event? Weisskircher suggests trying to implement a subject deeply, rather than spreading sensational words. “Today it rarely dares to engage in dry topics like lease law with its dominant educational environment,” says the researcher. Less about building beautiful posters and successful election campaigns than building long-term credibility.

According to Kahri, he is committed to maintaining his civic style, his fundamentally appreciative attitude towards all people, and his friendly attitude towards his political colleagues. Many thousands of people expressed their happiness in emails that they had won. She is said to be “pleasantly different” while her style is actually the most normal thing in the world. “Excessive expectation scares me a little, but I’ve never been scared in my life.”

dpa / shop