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Elke Kahr: Who is the Graz politician?
Elke Kahr: Who is the Graz politician?

She was first in the Graz municipal council election with the KPÖ - party leader Elke Kahr achieved a result that nobody expected. Who is the woman behind the unexpected success?

Elke Kahr politician
Elke Kahr politician

"Now I'm going to have a smoke," she told journalists at the press conference on Sunday after her party's victory. It came unexpectedly, even though the KPÖ has established itself as the second strongest party in Graz since 2012. The KPÖ made 29.3 percent, ahead of the ÖVP (25.8%) and the Greens (17%). Long-term mayor Siegfried Nagl, who had been in office for 18 years, resigned. His successor is likely to be KPÖ chairman Elke Kahr, 59. Fun fact: After the election victory party, which lasted until 1 a.m., the politician and a few colleagues washed dirty glasses herself. "So that there is no bad gossip."

Elke Kahr's political career

The Styrian became a KPÖ member in 1983, two years later she was involved in the party's district leadership. She made another political leap in 1993 when she became a councilor with a focus on social issues, women, children and young people. Kahr has been the club chairwoman of the Graz KPÖ since 1998. In 2003 and 2004 she was deputy national chairwoman of her party. In 2005 she took over as city councilor for housing affairs - and held the office until 2017.

In June 2016 she was elected deputy mayor. In 2017 she changed her area of responsibility as a city councilor and took care of traffic matters. She is also a board member of the Graz Office for Peace and Development. And now it is Mayor post in prospect

This is how she works as a person and as a politician

Many social consultation hours, during which she receives up to 150 people per week, unbureaucratic help with problems - Elke Kahr is known for her "Robin Hood policy". She donates about two thirds of her monthly net salary to charities. That's around 4,000 euros that she transfers to people who need it more urgently - to replace broken household appliances, to pay rents, deposits, groceries and funerals. She even keeps 1,900 euros. Continuing. Some report their actions as "bribery". Kahr: "People call, social workers, NGOs, hospitals, who are grateful that I and my city council colleague Robert Krotzer help people quickly and unbureaucratically in emergencies (…) It's not about bribes (…) I have in my whole Life has never asked anyone who they choose and how they think. What matters is how they are and what they need (…) I just like people."

You can find your number online and sometimes on election posters - in order to be there for all possible concerns of the population. It can be reached on an old Nokia. "If I can pick up, I have. If not, someone can put me on the tape or write an email, which I prefer." Your political message, so it is on the official homepage: "Don't forget anyone." What she is also valued for: the quality of her handshake. "It definitely keeps what it promises. Everyone really says that," insiders know.

Her ideology may be the basis of her own story: at the age of three, she became a housewife and a locksmith adopted. She grew up with her new family in the Gries district in modest circumstances, where many poor people and migrants live. She later graduated from high school and studied "Lenism and Marxism" in Moscow for eight months.

She is often asked in interviews whether the two are her role models. Your answer: "I am a 68er kid. I am not a person of authority at all or someone who has idols. My grandmother said, 'Make sure you stand on your own two feet. There are no Prince Charming. ' I'm out of a movement that questions everything. There are thousands of people I admire and value. I find them every day in life (…) There are also many well-known personalities … Whether it's Aki Kaurismäki, a great film director and also a communist. Whether there were great people who were in the resistance like Maria Caesar and Franz Leitner from my movement. Whether it's my granddaughter … Or my partner, whom I love and appreciate immensely because he is such a clever and humble person."

"I would like a society in which you look a little more at each other …"

She lives in the Styrian capital with her partner and the former KPÖ state party chairman Franz Stephan Parteder. The couple has been in a relationship for more than 30 years. "It became official at the time after a Rolling Stones concert," says Kahr in an interview. The two have two children: Franz and Maria.

Kahr and Partender live modestly. In a "Der Standard" homestory in 2015, the politician showed her home: an 85 square meter apartment, old building. Rent: 807 euros, including operating costs, excluding heating. At that time there were plans to move because "our children, Maria and Franz, are already grown up, but still need financial help one or the other time (…) Therefore, in the next few years, an apartment that is cheaper and smaller will be in demand is." Also a big one political concern of hers: affordable housing by means of an upper rent limit.

Much more important to Kahr than a pompous home are her hobbies: plants and traveling, especially to Scandinavia.

Elke Kahr
Elke Kahr

But now there will be less time for vacations. Kahr has big plans: Put the social in the foreground - and save with prestige projects, she says. Other parties call it "populism". She won't let that put her off. Kahr: "I would like a society in which one looks a little more at one another, lives community, shows moral courage. Your home is like you look after your neighborhood."

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