The announced snowfall did not fail to materialize on Tuesday. Hoteliers and innkeepers in Tyrol are even more pleased that from this Saturday, with the start of the semester break in Vienna and Lower Austria, the curfew will be pushed back from 22 to 24 and the federal government has already specifically promised further easing of the corona restrictions for February. In Tyrol, which is so heavily influenced and dependent on winter tourism, the consequences of the pandemic are always more important than the fact that in just under four weeks, on February 27th, municipal councils and mayors in 274 of the 277 municipalities will be re-elected.
After two winters with corona restrictions and lockdowns, Günther Platter was able to catch his breath. The provincial governor, who has been in power since 2008, is also the chairman of the Tyrolean ÖVP, the leader of the “mayor party” par excellence. Last year, the former gendarme from Zams stated that holding the 236 mayoral posts was the goal for the local council elections. In Innsbruck, where the Green Georg Willi is mayor, there will be no elections on February 27th.
Platter faces a headwind
Even if the decisions of the more than 500,000 eligible voters primarily apply to local politicians and issues, it is an endurance test for the Tyrolean governor. He already announced last year that he would run again in the next state election in 2023. Platter is fighting against a considerable headwind.
He has been under constant pressure from the economy since March 2020 due to the burden of the Corona requirements. Chamber of Commerce President Christoph Walser is said to have ambitions. On February 27, as the mayor of Thaur near Innsbruck, he himself will be put to the test. In addition, there are the aftermath of the crisis management for the corona infections in the ski resort of Ischgl in the Paznaun Valley. To make matters worse, a survey by the “Tiroler Tageszeitung” before the turn of the year saw the state governor party only at 32 percent, which is dramatically low by Tyrolean standards compared to 44.3 percent in the 2018 state election. No wonder that the black state party headquarters is trying to calm down and from don’t want to know about a withdrawal from Platters.
However, it is little consolation that Platter’s deputy from the Green coalition partner, Ingrid Felipe, is hardly doing any better. In the spring of the previous year, she resigned from her position in the Green state party. The difference to Platter: She has not committed to running again in the 2023 state election. This was linked to the fact that she had not done this two years before the election either.
Some reservations about Kogler
The results of the local council elections will nevertheless bring a preliminary decision. The Greens are represented in around 40 communities, mainly in the vicinity of the provincial capital of Innsbruck and in the Inn Valley, with traffic pollution as a central issue. It was not for nothing that Infrastructure Minister Leonore Gewessler (Greens) was present at the start of the election in mid-January in the district town of Schwaz. Parts of the Tyrolean Greens have reservations about the work of the Greens under Vice Chancellor Werner Kogler in the turquoise-green federal government – even before the secret side agreement that has now surfaced with the ÖVP under Sebastian Kurz about filling posts and topics such as the headscarf ban for female teachers. As a personal alternative to Felipe, the name of the green ex-federal manager Thimo Fiesel is mentioned.
MFG announces candidacy
At least since the local council elections last Sunday in Waidhofen an der Ybbs in Lower Austria, which brought the anti-vaccination list MFG 17 percent of the votes, their appearance in the Tyrolean local elections has been followed with even more attention. The MFG has announced its candidacy in 34 communities. In Tyrol, this not only means competition in terms of content with the FPÖ, which is also opposed to the federal government’s corona measures. With MFG state spokesman Bernhard Schmidt, a blue man switched to the new list last year, the ex-Liberal is now “wild” mandatary in Innsbruck. In the 2016 local council elections, the FPÖ was also on the upswing nationwide. The state party, headed by Markus Abwerzger, will run for office in around 80 communities.
Tyrol’s SPÖ boss Georg Dornauer can at least record one success. In Sellrain in the Innsbruck-Land district, he is the only candidate facing re-election as mayor. The SPÖ has 25 local heads, including in Lienz, where Dornauer’s short-term predecessor Elisabeth Blanik is running for re-election.
In the deep black Tyrol of all places, the Neos, who entered the state parliament for the first time in 2018, can refer to a nationwide unicum. With Markus Moser they provide a mayor in Mils near Imst. Of course, the lawyer has been in office since 2010 and only joined the Pinken in 2017.
In those communities in which no mayoral candidate manages an absolute majority at the first attempt, a runoff election is scheduled for March 13th. Municipal leadership in Tyrol is firmly in the hands of men compared to only 18 female mayors.