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The coalition of four in Innsbruck has burst

The Innsbruck four-party coalition of the Greens, ÖVP, Für Innsbruck and SPÖ was ended on Thursday evening by Green Mayor Georg Willi for and the “free play of forces” that he had announced was proclaimed.

She stood on the precipice – and has now fallen into it. The Innsbruck four-party coalition of the Greens, ÖVP, Für Innsbruck and SPÖ – anyway more a marriage of convenience than love – stumbled on for months. Return carriage followed return carriage. Mayor Georg Willi (Greens) took the election of a FPÖ deputy mayor in pandemic times as an occasion for a political gamble, he switched to the “free game of forces”. At least for now.

On January 21 of this year Willi’s hat string burst: FPÖ man Markus Lassenberger was elected vice mayor by the local council and prevailed against SPÖ city councilor Elisabeth Mayr. The city chief saw an affront, a breach of the coalition agreement and made coalition partner for Innsbruck responsible for choosing the freedom. It was the anticipated end of a coalition misunderstanding that began with the formation of a government in 2018 after the municipal council election.

The engine stuttered from the start until it came to a complete standstill. At that time, Willi had won a runoff election against office boss Christine Oppitz-Plörer (for Innsbruck). The long-time Greens veteran, Landtag club chairman and national councilor landed at the local level, where his political career as a local councilor had started. The Realo politician, also highly regarded in the predominant black Tyrolean circles, found himself in a leading executive position for the first time – at the city level, where politics is primarily visible to the citizens and less an outflow of ideological strategy debates such as at federal or also at federal level State level.

Political observers often had the impression that the 61-year-old was having a hard time with it. There was also repeated talk of a not exactly functioning chemistry between the closest circle around Willi and the long-established town hall machinery. In addition, the inner-coalition, realpolitical conditions made the rest of the problem: Christine Oppitz-Plörer remained in city politics as Vice Mayor and City Councilor for Economic Affairs.

In view of a politician, her ambition is no easy undertaking, but hardly any insider believed and still believes that she will be satisfied with this position in the long term under her former, victorious challenger Willi. In addition, there was the everyday political problem of a coalition of four as well as the fact that the state capital – to put it casually – is somewhat financially tight and no big leaps were possible from the start.

With the deselection of deputy mayor after the cost increases in the construction of the Patscherkofelbahn in October, for which the Greens voted in favor, the coalition disaster took its course. With it, Willi opened Pandora’s box. The coalition path into the abyss had a further deselection station in December 2020: Green Deputy Mayor Uschi Schwarzl was voted out, among other things, with the votes of the coalition partners ÖVP, SPÖ and FI – because of the ordinance to establish a temporary meeting zone.

And finally, in January, Lassenberger was elected. Willi, a lifelong political opponent of the Freedom Party, did not want a blue man to represent him politically – even if he was not in office – when he was absent. The ideologist in Georg Willi came to the fore, full of anger and anger at what he called this “affront” in the midst of his four-party coalition. From then on, the political fox sought other majorities, but failed. Since then, the coalition was no longer a coalition, the “free play of forces” – which, according to Willi, the citizens will not even notice – had already started.

Probably only the burning and omnipresent corona pandemic is currently preventing new elections. The political signal to the pandemic-plagued and weary people to go to the ballot boxes at this time of all times would probably be too devastating.

The picture on Thursday after most of the parliamentary groups left – including the coalition partners before the vote – was emblematic: Willi alone at home. Except for a few red colleagues. The mayor has to fight now – not least for his political future.

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