Graz – Elke Kahr – first communist city chief of the republic

The Grazer KPÖ party leader Elke Kahr achieved a success that caused a sensation beyond Austria. Your Graz KPÖ overtook the ÖVP of the seemingly unchallenged mayor Siegfried Nagl, who had been ruling mayor since 2003, and was ahead of the blacks with 25.91 percent in the municipal council election on September 26th with 28.84 percent. Kahr, who had already carried the business over to the city councilor Robert Krotzer before the election, now has to meet very high standards.

She celebrated her 60th birthday on All Souls’ Day, two weeks later she will be elected the first female communist mayor of an Austrian capital by the supporting Greens and the SPÖ at the constituent meeting on Wednesday, November 17. In a first statement after winning the election, Kahr did not appear triumphant by nature, but clearly surprised, with a hint of discomfort.

Indeed, a monster task awaits them – succeeding a mayor who has ruled for almost 20 years is never easy. To do this, a number of encrusted structures must be broken up, such as the significantly large influence of the ÖVP in city administration and municipal companies and holdings, whereby the KPÖ has already said that “nobody has to be afraid”. Kahr will probably focus on the personal issue of living and social affairs and, after the election-related shutdown for Nagl’s subway plans, focus on expanding trams and S-Bahn.

In any case, Kahr will have to deliver – both in terms of representation as head of the city and as the bearer of probably unpopular decisions, and everything under the eagle eyes of an expectant electorate and an ÖVP lurking again for their chance. But Kahr also embodies hope for a change in Graz – towards more respectful treatment, possibly a new style of urban policy and real change in climate and transport policy, which for Kahr is also social policy at the same time.

Strong pressure to justify itself

Most recently, in addition to the time-consuming negotiations, but in a good climate with the Greens and the SPÖ, Kahr was exposed to strong pressure to justify itself. Nationwide media had repeatedly asked how Kahr and her Graz Communist Party stand on the crimes of communist parties around the world since 1917.

In any case, Kahr had already succeeded in 2012 in stepping out of the shadow of the former city party leader Ernest Kaltenegger, who became known beyond Austria, and following on from the sensational result of 2003 – with the characteristics that are now well known and typical for the Graz and Styrian communists: understandable social commitment , Hard work, modesty, donating part of your own salary for good causes (“Open Accounts Day” always on December 28th of each year, note) and years of persistence in certain topics such as social cards or bond funds.

Competent in social and housing issues

The Graz KPÖ boss is considered to be of integrity, relaxed, committed and competent in social and housing issues. The residential department had been a KPÖ domain for decades and was part of its core competence. In 2017, the new ÖVP-FPÖ coalition came up with the idea of ​​swapping: Mario Eustacchio (FPÖ) took over the housing department, Kahr was assigned “his” transport department – probably in the hope of disenchanting the communist. However, given the election success, the calculation did not work out. In any case, Kahr was not deterred and continued to advise tenants. In the meantime, Mayor Nagl due to the election defeat and Vice Mayor Eustacchio due to an extra fee affair are history.

Kahr from Graz (born November 2nd, 1961), who was adopted at the age of three, was employed as a secretary in the Kontrollbank, attended the evening trade academy on the side and has been a party member for almost 30 years. The Graz native has been living in a partnership with the former KPÖ state party chairman Franz-Stephan Parteder since 1988 and has an adult son. Kahr moved into the local council in 1993, and in 1998 she took over the leadership of the KPÖ club. From 2003 to 2004 she held the post of deputy federal chairman of the KPÖ. (apa)

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