Now it’s official – Mayor Michael Ludwig (SPÖ), and soon-to-be Vice Mayor Christoph Wiederkehr (NEOS) have completed negotiations and are ready to govern Vienna. On Monday, Nov. 16, the new Red-Pink (named after the colors that represent them) administration outlined their plans for the city, with major points including fighting climate change, improving Viennese schools, and increasing transparency.
Save the Economy!
Ludwig announced a €600 million aid package for kindergartens and schools, sports facilities, swimming pools, public transportation, and infrastructure. Specifically, the coalition will focus on small businesses and family-owned enterprises, which, according to the mayor, should not struggle during the corona crisis.
Additionally, Red-Pink promises to establish a long-term plan for reducing unemployment. This includes expanding the Joboffensive 50plus, strengthening the Viennese Employment Promotion Fund (Waff), establishing a specialization center for vocational training, information campaigns to promote programs and the development of other city-run foundations and financing arms that support employment growth.
The Green Model City
In addition, they aim to make Vienna CO2-neutral by 2040. To achieve this, Ludwig and Wiederkehr have outlined a detailed plan, which includes drafting a Viennese climate law and coming up with a climate budget in 2022.
By 2030, the coalition aims to reduce the number of cars entering the city and daily commuters by half. Viennese taxi companies should also switch to electric cars by 2025. Investments in bike lanes will be quadrupled, and the public transit system will be expanded to the outer districts. The long-term goal is for 80% of public transportation routes to be reachable by bike or foot. In addition, they want to build a €70 million cable car that runs between Hütteldorf and Ottakring.
“No Child Should Be Left Behind”
Red-Pink also aspires to make Vienna’s schools the best in the country, paying special attention to so-called Brennpunktschulen (“flashpoint schools”), planning to create ten new all-day school programs each year. To ensure students receive the support they need, they promise to increase the number of psychologists and language specialists at schools. Additionally, institutions will be provided with more administrative staff so that teachers have more time to prepare for classes. The government will also commission an annual school budget.
Increasing transparency was one of the NEOS’ core demands, and Ludwig met them halfway. The government will create an anti-corruption bureau, and the city’s auditors will be allowed to monitor the use of federal funds by state-level political parties. The authority of investigative commissions will also be expanded, and the spending cap for election campaigns will be lowered by €1 million. To further increase the transparency of the administration, they will also appoint a Freedom of Information Commissioner.
As expected, Wiederkehr will become Vice-Mayor, Education and Integration Councilor, as well as Transparency Councilor. The current Environmental Councilor Ulli Sima will replace Birgit Hebein (Greens) as City Councilor for Mobility and City Planning.
The Red-Pink “progress coalition” will be appointed next week, on Nov. 24. This marks the end of a decade of Red-Green rule over Vienna.
“The negotiations have shown that social democrats and liberals can work well together,” said Ludwig, who described the new government program as a “modernization process for Vienna.”