In the current political climate, trust is at a premium. So Gerhard Kroiß (FPÖ), the deputy mayor of Wels in Lower Austria, decided it was time for the naked truth

He invited his constituents to a “citizen talk” in the Welldorado Sauna.  From 17:00 to 19:00 on February 15, they would meet in the sauna buffet, and then retire for further discussion in kleinerem Rahmen – in a more, shall we say, intimate setting.

He wanted to show his “closeness to the people,” the deputy mayor told the Vienna tabloid Heute. As it is, he goes to the Sauna every week with his regular group, so why not put the two events together?

This time, everyone’s invited, and between the Aufgüsse, as water sizzles over the heated rocks, they can share problems and make suggestions – including about the sauna itself. He expected some “heated discussion,” Kroiß said. “They can bring up anything under my jurisdiction. And we’ll all sweat it out together!”

As of this writing, no word of the proceedings has leaked to the wider world.

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Dardis McNamee is the Editor in Chief of METROPOLE. Over a long career in journalism she has written for The New York Times, Conde Nast Traveler in New York, the Wall Street Journal Europe and Die Zeit in Vienna, as well as having been a speechwriter to two US ambassadors to Austria. She was awarded the 2007 Kemper Award for Excellence in Teaching for her work at the Department of Media Communications for Webster University Worldwide. In 2010, she was granted Austrian Citizenship of Honor (Ehrenstaatsbürgerschaft) for outstanding contributions to the Austrian Republic