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    Graz election 2017: ÖVP is facing difficult coalition negotiations

    City council elections took place in Graz (Austria) on 5 February 2017. The clear winner is mayor Siegfried Nagl from the Austrian People´s Party (ÖVP).

    According to the official results, the ÖVP got 37.8 percent of the votes, the KPÖ (Communist Party) 20.3 percent and the FPÖ (Freedom Party) 15.9 percent. The SPÖ (Social Democratic Party) lost heavily, achieving only 10.1 percent; the Greens have also recorded a minus of 10.5 percent. The NEOS gained 3.9 per cent and thus enters the city council, while the Pirates failed with 1.1 per cent. The final result is a bitter pill to swallow for the SPÖ: they have lost their two seats in the council to the KPÖ and are out of the government. The ÖVP gains three more seats; the FPÖ and the Green Party both get one additional seat. In total, the ÖVP will be represented in the municipal council with 19 seats, the KPÖ with ten. The FPÖ gets eight seats, the Greens and the SPÖ five and the NEOS one seat. The turnout was at 57 percent and has increased slightly compared to the 2012 election, but is the second lowest turnout compared to the five previous elections.

    A new coalition of the ÖVP with the second-strongest force KPÖ seems highly unlikely. Nagl already announced that the ÖVP will not elect Elke Kahr (KPÖ) as vice mayor. There are several reasons against a coalition with the Communist Party, e.g. regarding the issue of a water power plant at the river Mur, which the KPÖ opposes. Nagl is critical of a ÖVP-Green-Neo coalition: 25 mandates would be too little for a comfortable majority. He also is skeptical about the right-wing FPÖ as they are far apart on issues such as education and integration.
    Despite the withdrawal of the SPÖ from the proportional government, the mayor favours a black-red-green coalition as they would have the majority in the city council (with 29 mandates) as well as in the municipal government. In any case, the coalition negotiations will be tough.

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