A communist mayor for Graz?

The Communist Party of Austria (KPÖ) has won a surprise victory in local elections in Graz. Its candidate Elke Kahr could now lead a communist-social democrat-green coalition (red-red-green) coalition as mayor of Austria's second largest city. The conservative mayor Siegfried Nagl (ÖVP), who held his post for many years, resigned on the eve of the election. The KPÖ's success is above all due to its citizen-oriented policies, commentators believe.

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Salzburger Nachrichten (AT) /

A more credible form of social democracy

The KPÖ stands for authentic social politics in Graz, the Salzburger Nachrichten comments:

“Does the breeding ground for a global revolution lie on the Mur river? Is its code name Stalingraz? Not at all. The success of the KPÖ under Elke Kahr is not proof of any fascination with the hammer and sickle. It documents a great need for parties that are close to the people, social warmth, a form of politics that is not constantly looking to spin doctors and polls, but is simply grounded and authentic. Seen in this light, the Graz KPÖ is a better, more credible SPÖ - a role model in terms of content for all those on the left who have forgotten how to speak to their voter base.”

Wiener Zeitung (AT) /

KPÖ must now see the big picture

The big sensation will be followed by a difficult practical test, the Wiener Zeitung points out:

“For years the party has had an open ear for the people, and has sided with the city's population in particular on social issues and problems relating to housing. ... The challenge it now faces is how to turn its concern for the socially disadvantaged into a fair distribution of the city's funds and resources - without losing its closeness to the people. Because although a hands-on approach shows commitment, it doesn't protect against the danger that those who shout the loudest will be heard and get their way.”