Muzicant Wins the Elections Without a New Opposition

Die Presse (12/10/2007)

Jewish Community Vienna. Ariel Muzicant will become once more President following the elections despite a loss of mandate and a new party.

Vienna – Ariel Muzicant (55) will continue to head the Jewish Community (IKG) the next five years. His ticket, “Atid,” won the board’s elections on Sunday and on two other primaries during the past week. However, this time “Atid” was able to win only ten mandates (41.22 %) of the twenty-four members of the Jewishcouncil. During the last elections in the year 2002 it was eleven mandates.

The IKG’s newly elected board will meet January 8, 2008. Muzicant’s reelection as president for a third five-year period is purely a matter of form.

Muzicant is naturally “very satisfied” with the outcome because “that was really a hard-fought victory,” he declared on Monday. Muzicant remembers that the last 2002 elections mobilized a large segment of voters because the Jewish Community stood in conflict with the coalition government of Freedom Party and People’s Party. With the change over from the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) to the Austrian Future Union (BZÖ) and the agreement with Wolfgang Schüssel’s government on restitution, the atmosphere between the coalition and the Jewish Community improved. Today’s elections produced nothing comparable to those of 2002 – confronted neither by political dissatisfaction nor any opposition candidate, says Muzicant. Much more he was afraid of a decline in voter participation to that of 40%. Actually, voter participation fell from 62.6% to 54.7%. Thus, given the odds, Muzicant speaks of the elections as being basically a “sensational success.”  His “Atid” ticket won twice as many mandates as the second strongest ticket, that of the “Sefardim-Bukharian Jews” (five mandates) and five times as many as the third strongest ticket, the “Union of Social Democratic Jews-Avoda.” Muzicant plans first of all to hold talks with the second strongest group. “Atid” has worked with the “Sefardim-Bukharian Jews” over the past few decades.

Liberal Critics of Israel
In the line up was the young liberal ticket, “Gesher”, which achieved two mandates without difficulty and has, by way of comparison, an unusual program: Austria’s Jewish Community should judge the state of Israel more critically than it has in the past.
The Georgian Jews succeeded in achieving one mandate, and the block of religious Jews as well as the Misrachi-Zionist Union.