Lueger, Karl

Lueger, Karl
   One of Europe’s most successful municipal politicians, Lueger used his humble origins to great career advantage. The son of a caretaker at Vienna’s Technical University, he had a particular appeal to the city’s lower middle classes, which counted him as one of their own. They faithfully supported Lueger as mayor between 1897 and his death, along with the Christian Social Party (CP), which he represented. In return, he gave them an array of municipal services—public transportation, a municipal gas supply, famously pure drinking water—that much of the world could only envy.
   Trained as a lawyer, Lueger entered politics early in his professional life. He identified himself with democratic opposition to the liberal bourgeois oligarchy that had governed the city since the Revolutions of 1848. He was particularly critical of the vast corruption that had come to mark the regime. He entered the Austrian parliament in 1885, where he was increasingly drawn to the CatholicConservative element he found there, including the anti-Semitism that was a routine, and very troubling, part of its rhetoric. Just how much he believed all of this is unclear, but these views were certainly part of his public persona.
   The Vienna City Council chose him as mayor in 1893, but Emperor Franz Joseph, concerned that Lueger’s anti-Jewish and antiHungarian rhetoric would further envenom ethnic relations among the peoples of the Habsburg Empire, disallowed the election. It was only in 1897, after three more elections, that the monarch permitted the politician to take the office. By this time, advisors had convinced the Habsburg that the CP could serve as a bulwark against the rising appeal of Marxist Social Democracy.

Historical dictionary of Austria. . 2014.

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