June 2020, Year XII, n. 6
The Red Mayor
Telos: In Italy the Prime Minister is indicated by the Parliament. However, every time there are talks about changing the Constitution and go for a direct popular election, people use the expression ‘The Mayor of Italy’. This shows that Mayors have more power to impact on their citizens’ everyday life even than the Head of the Government. Does this apply also to Austria?
Michael Ludwig : In Austria, federalism is one of the main pillars of the Republic and voters make a clear distinction between national, provincial and municipal politics. As a result, the role of cities cannot be underestimated: Vienna is not only the economic powerhouse of the Country but also an important driver of societal development. Mayors, more than any other politicians, have their finger on the pulse of the local community, they listen to people’s concerns and usually have concrete solutions to concrete problems ...more
In 2019 we launched our series of interviews with Mayors. We’ve gone from Latin America to Europe, naturally focussing in particular on Italian Mayors. They are all skilled administrators and fine politicians, even those who waved aside and said they weren’t. Though, after several months, we have yet to receive an answer that was as permeated with political belief, as bursting with ideals and ideological references – in the very best sense of the word – as those of Michael Ludwig, Mayor of Vienna for almost two years.
The leitmotif of the interview is Ludwig’s total espousal of his political belief in social democracy, and every single choice he has made in governing the city has been inspired by these ideals. His old-school zest almost brought tears to our eyes. He starts off by saying that “For one hundred years, Vienna’s citizens have always chosen Social Democratic mayors. ...more