Humanity will always win“: How a left-wing mayor governs the city with Austria’s largest refugee camp

The small metropolis of Traiskirchen is domestic to each Austria’s biggest refugee camp and a success left-wing mayor. While right-wing populists are gaining floor across the world, the Social Democrats preserve 28 of the 37 neighborhood councillors in Traiskirchen. The small metropolis is attempting to defy massive worldwide businesses and positioned network above hate. “That´s our challenge”, says Mayor Andreas Babler.

“We are a regular network, however on the identical time an top notch one,” says Mayor Andreas Babler approximately his small Austrian metropolis Traiskirchen. By “typical” he manner: Industrial location, round 20,000 inhabitants, and some inns. By “top notch” he manner the whole lot else. Living collectively with refugees, for example. Traiskirchen is domestic to the biggest refugee camp in Austria. At the time of the refugee motion in 2015, as much as 4,500 refugees lived right here in a constrained space – this is nearly 1 / 4 of the whole populace of Traiskirchen. While refugees somewhere else are abused withinside the streets, the residents in Traiskirchen arrange remedy movements for them.

It is likewise uncommon that Traiskirchen is ruled at the left. Despite the reality that the metropolis is placed withinside the predominantly conservative province of Lower Austria, the Social Democrats below Babler rule in Traiskirchen with over 70% of the vote.

In Traiskirchen, network and cohesion dominate over hate and populism. What makes existence in this small Austrian metropolis so unique? It all commenced over a hundred and twenty years ago, says Mayor Andreas Babler.

-Austrian metropolis Traiskirchen boomed via sturdy exchange unions:

At the time of industrialization at the quit of the nineteenth century, the rubber producer Semperit constructed a manufacturing facility in Traiskirchen, which turned into to carry prosperity to the small metropolis for lots decades. In the 1930s, around 9,000 humans lived in Traiskirchen – 2,000 of them labored at the Semperit manufacturing facility. “The overall performance of the employees returned then produced the prosperity of the metropolis,” says the social democrat Babler. This turned into the handiest viable due to the fact the exchange union in Traiskirchen turned into properly organized. It ensured excessive wages and a first-rate organization pension scheme. The Semperit employees earned so properly that they and their households had been capable of spending cash withinside the network – the entire metropolis flourished.

Over a hundred years later, the Semperit manufacturing facility closed, however, the jobs remained. Globalization and growing aggressive strain ensured that Semperit turned into bought by the German tire large Continental withinside the 1980s. The Production turned steadily outsourced to nations with less expensive labor costs, and in 2010 the Traiskirchen web website online eventually closed its doors.

“We do now no longer need to make ourselves depending on massive businesses,” says Mayor Babler. The network is consequently running on revitalizing the previous Semperit manufacturing facility web website online. There at the moment are extra than 1,000 jobs again.

-Pressure on politicians, now no longer refugees:

Like industry, the refugee camp additionally shapes Traiskirchen’s identity. For extra than 60 years, Austria’s biggest refugee lodging has been placed there. The refugee camp is by some means a reflection of the world: In 1968, after the autumn of the Prague Spring, in particular, humans from Czechoslovakia located refuge in Traiskirchen, and in 1973 Chileans fled to Traiskirchen from the massacres of the Pinochet regime, withinside the 2000s it turned into in particular Iraqis and Afghans.

In 2015, because of the Syrian war, as many as 4,500 refugees had been residing in Traiskirchen – that could be a region of the whole resident populace. At that time, the refugee motion brought about the upward push of right-wing populists at some stage in Europe. Not in Traiskirchen.


In Traiskirchen, consistent with the mayor, refugee coverage is usually made below the element of humanism. “Elsewhere, strain is being exerted on refugees, even though they’re now no longer liable for the reality that they have got to flee.” Instead, he says, the metropolis of Traiskirchen attempts to place political strain on folks that are in charge of the wars that pressure humans to flee.

-Everyone performs a part:

Traiskirchen additionally performed a pioneering function withinside the Corona disaster. The municipality reacted with a package deal of measures. Traiskirchen turned into the primary metropolis in Austria to provide meals and medicinal drug deliveries for the elderly. Older humans and those with unique desires had been telephoned all through the disaster to assist them in isolation and provide them with a person to speak to. The bills for childcare centers had been suspended to relieve the monetary burden on Traiskirchen’s mother and father all through the disaster. Concerts had been even organized withinside the gardens of retirement houses to offer the citizens a trade from the regular existence of their domestic – the mayor himself additionally picked up a guitar. “We attempted to shield the maximum vital factor in this disaster: the humans. Humanity will usually win.

People are usually the point of interest in Traiskirchen. Everyone, irrespective of their monetary possibilities, has to have the ability to take part in social existence. That is why the metropolis helps institutions and voluntary work. There are song clubs, sports activities clubs, cultural clubs, mother and father institutions and even a stamp membership in small Traiskirchen. They all provide residents the possibility to be a part of it while not having to pay a variety of cash for it. To be capable of examining a device in a song membership or to play in a soccer team – which means to be a part of it, which means to take part in social existence.

“We are a part of a global motion”

The achievement appears to show Andreas Babler and his Social Democrats right. While right-wing populists are at the upward push, additionally in Austria, the Social Democrats in Traiskirchen carried out a massive majority of 71% withinside the 2020 elections. 28 of the 37 neighborhood councilors in Traiskirchen are occupied with the aid of using the left-wing party.

Babler has no recommendation for his social democratic colleagues across the world. Just a reminder: “Even if we’re handiest sitting in a small Austrian metropolis, we’re nonetheless a part of a global movement. Our challenge is and has usually been to be a mouthpiece for the vast mass of running humans.”

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