Sympathetic communist creates coup in Austria

In Salzburg, a young communist scared the other parties with a concept that couldn’t be simpler.

Salzburg: The top candidate of the Austrian Communist Party (KPÖ), Kay-Michael Dankl, arrives in front of a polling station to vote. 

Salzburg: The top candidate of the Austrian Communist Party (KPÖ), Kay-Michael Dankl, arrives to vote in front of a polling station. APA

In Austria there has been another political surprise with a new communist party. Completely unexpectedly, the KPÖ PLUS achieved 11.7 percent of the votes and entered the Salzburg state parliament. This means that the KPÖ is represented in the Salzburg state parliament for the first time since 1949.

But the new party has little in common with the post-war Communists: its top candidate Kay-Michael Dankl was previously active in the Greens. When his green youth organization was closed by the parent party for disobedience, Dankl switched to the communists – which until then only existed on paper.

The 34-year-old historian had already successfully applied for a seat on the Salzburg municipal council in 2019. Dankl did not manage the current coup with a member party in the working-class milieu, but with several hundred activists and a clear program: As with the Graz communists, whose strategy has made it to the mayor, Dankl’s main topic has been the housing shortage for years . Dankl says no profits should be made from satisfying basic needs such as housing and heating.

Dankl, who works part-time as a museum guide, has long been advising people on finding and paying for housing. The offer is mainly accepted by older people. Like the Graz comrades, Dankl pays part of his politician’s salary into a social fund. This should serve to ensure that politics does not become an end in itself. The KPÖ under Dankl wants to “take votes away from the big party of non-voters”. Many people no longer felt represented by any party. Dankl says in a party video that he lived in the United States for a few years as a child and saw the consequences of a healthcare system dominated by corporations.

With regard to Moscow, the new KPÖ has drawn a clear demarcation from the classic communists: Dankl said in an interview with oe24 that Austria is neutral, but must become more active in “peace policy”. In concrete terms, this means that Austria must fight the “oligarchs, the rich around the Putin regime”, who “stole a gigantic fortune from the Russian population”, much harder in Austria. The authorities would have to access their “villas and lakeside properties on Lake Attersee and their black money accounts”. He attacked the Salzburg Festival for planning a partnership with Gazprom.

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