For the first time since 1945, the city of Salzburg has turned from Red to a new silky Black.
With 37% of the vote and a doubling of their council seats from eight to 16, the People’s Party (ÖVP) officially unseated the Social Democrats (SPÖ), establishing a stronghold in the alpine provincial capital. Local ÖVP chairman and Mayor Harald Preuner reported he is “humbled” by the win and is “looking forward” to forming coalitions. The new council will divide its 40 seats among seven parties, which won’t make governing easy. Its natural ally the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ), the ÖVP coalition partner at the national level, lost two of its five seats in council making a black/blue majority unlikely. But Preuner says he is open to anything: “Other parties have good ideas, too.”
In two weeks (Mar 24), residents in the city of Salzburg will return to the polls to officially elect a mayor, in a run off election. The SPÖ’s Bernhard Auigner is expected to remain deputy mayor to Preuner who has been in office since 2017. Marketed as tough – determined while keeping extremism at bay – the ÖVP’s nationwide success attests to Chancellor Kurz’s successful re-branding of the party. Kurz traveled to Salzburg Mar. 14 in support of Preuner’s campaign, congratulating his colleagues on “an historic victory.”