Austria: another success for the Communist Party

The Communist Party of Austria (KPÖ), one of the oldest parties in the country, has long led a shadowy political existence. But now the KPÖ and its alliance partners have secured 12 percent of the vote in Salzburg’s regional elections and up to 22 percent in the city itself. Its success is reminiscent of what happened in Graz, which has had a communist mayor since 2021. The party’s campaign focused on housing policy. Commentators also see other reasons for its success.

Naftemporiki (GR) /

Close to the needs of the people

Writing in Naftemporiki, political scientist Vaso Mourela takes a closer look at the party’s strategy:

“KPÖ Plus Salzburg chose to focus its campaign almost exclusively on the important housing problem in the city. At the same time, their team not only offered solutions to practical issues by going door to door and offering help with filling in documents to apply for social benefits, but even provided direct support through their own campaigns — with money that Kay-Michael Dankl has voluntarily donated from his salary as a Salzburg city councillor since 2019. This strategy has helped to build a significant local network of supporters, which has translated into a historic increase in their election results.”

Zeit Online (DE) /

Credibility as a recipe for success

Left parties in other countries should take a close look at what is happening in Austria, Zeit Online recommends:

“In recent years there have been repeated discussions about whether the Graz model could be copied. The result in Salzburg suggests that it can, at least to a certain extent. ... The strength of the KPÖ rests on three pillars: professional work in parliament, extra-parliamentary actions such as demonstrations, and direct contact with the people, for example by offering counselling for tenants. Its success shows how important credibility is for a party on the left.”

Jonas Vogt
Wiener Zeitung (AT) /

Ideological background must not be forgotten

The success of the KPÖ must not be trivialised, warns Otmar Lahodynsky, Honorary President of the Association of European Journalists, in a guest commentary for the Wiener Zeitung:

“Dankl, the KPÖ’s top candidate in Salzburg, cut a good figure in interviews because he distanced himself from all ‘authoritarian systems’ and any expression of admiration for communist systems. And also from the Russian warmonger Vladimir Putin. ... Today’s KPÖ Plus presents itself as a harmless, idealistic social movement that wants nothing to do with the communist aberrations and crimes of the past. But despite the winning appearances of Dankl in Salzburg or of the mayor of Graz, Elke Kahr, we should not forget the KPÖ’s ideological background.”

Otmar Lahodynsky