It was a real bang that reverberated throughout Innsbruck’s political landscape on Thursday morning. After the recent escalations surrounding Mayor Georg Willi’s personnel policy, three city councilors left the Greens Club and immediately started a new list. For the ÖVP this step was long overdue, the SPÖ says the “road for the cooperation of the reasonable” is now clear. The FPÖ speaks of “Willi’s political downfall”. Willi himself respected the decision, he is not thinking about resigning.
Clearly fed up, previous Green councilors Thomas Lechleitner, Marcela Duftner and Renate Krammer-Stark announced their departure from the club. Mayor Georg Willi was completely surprised by this news, but said a little later: “This democratic move must be respected. I’m just surprised that I didn’t find out anything beforehand.”
“Loss of core values”
The resigned trio immediately announced the creation of their own list called “Innsbruck worth living – a city for everyone”. The president of the club is Marcela Duftner. All three are committed to the basic values “democracy at the grassroots level, non-violent ecological, solidarity, feminist and self-determination”, which are more important than ever as guiding principles for overcoming current and future crises. “There are many reasons for our decision, which we have struggled long and hard with. The apparent loss of these core values in the Georg Willi list is just one of them,” it said in a statement.
ÖVP: “Abandon Willis power politics”
The first reactions from the other parties were not long in coming. “This resignation of the three municipal councils is a long time coming and absolutely understandable. It is a clear sign that many in the Green Party no longer want to support the autocratic leadership style of Georg Willi and Uschi Schwarzl. Marcela Duftner, Thomas Lechleitner and Renate Krammer-Stark drew late, but nevertheless faced the consequences and distanced themselves from Willis’ power politics,” emphasized VP club president Christoph Appler.
But it is also clear “that Georg Willi has been greatly weakened politically and is increasingly losing support, not only in his own ranks but also in the population,” Appler continued. The Greens were previously represented with ten members in Innsbruck’s city council.
SPÖ: “Cooperation of the reasonable”
“We have often wondered what the green community club tolerates and supports. But the jug just goes down the drain until it breaks,” explains Irene Heisz of the Innsbruck Social Democrats. “If the mayor now loses a third of his city council club, one must say: the jug has broken irreparably into a thousand pieces.” For the SPÖ, “the way is now clear for cooperation between the reasonable.”
FPÖ shakes hands with ex-Greens
“The political downfall of Georg Willis has now begun,” said FPÖ deputy mayor Markus Lassenberger, reaching out to the three ex-Greens to work together. “We are not excluding anyone, that is why we are inviting liberals to political cooperation for the citizens of Innsbruck and the employees of the magistrate, especially in these times, cooperation is very important,” said Lassenberger.
Willi is not thinking about resigning
For the Liberal, it would be “appropriate for Willi to resign immediately so that things can settle down.” But the mayor doesn’t even think about it. “I am directly elected mayor. And if a majority wants to vote me out, they can. But I was elected by the people and this decision must be subject to a referendum. The inhabitants of Innsbruck should be asked whether they still want me or not. And not the municipality.”
Willi had to contend with strong headwinds in recent days. The reason for the last trench war was a critical report from the control office about the personnel policy of the city administrator. Among other things, high compensation, special treatment and contracts for individual employees in the Willis area and special arrangements for the HR manager were questioned and criticized. Willi avoided her dismissal by dissolving it and creating a “Human Resources” department reporting to him. The employee in question has since resigned from her position.