Number of foreigners in Vienna up 49 percent

Number of foreigners in Vienna up 49 percent
Vienna's markets show how multicultural the city has become. Photo: Gugerell/Wikimedia
The number of non-Austrians living in Vienna has risen by 49 percent in eight years, recent statistics show. Political parties are now considering not only how to tackle the theme of immigration but also how to appeal to foreign citizens, ahead of local elections in October.

460,163 non-Austrians now live in Vienna – 49 percent more than in 2007. The number of Austrian citizens has dropped by one percent.

EU nationals who are officially registered at their residence in Vienna (angemeldet) will be able to vote for their local district councillor in the Vienna elections – but not for the city council or the mayor (those elections are limited to Austrian nationals).

In 2014, 712,000 people in Vienna had a migration background. “That’s one out of two people,” Vice Mayor Maria Vassilakou from the Green party said. “Integration is yesterday’s topic, now it’s about acceptance and promotion.” She added that education is the key and said that every child aged two years and up needs to have a guaranteed nursery place.

Some migrant groups have even started their own political parties, as they feel under-represented by the mainstream parties. The Türkische Liste (Turkish List) is led by doctor Turgay Taskiran, who says that the party is designed to appeal to “all individuals with and without a migration background”.

He has stressed that despite the name it’s not a “Turkish party… but an alternative for Viennese people who want to live together without prejudice”. He has also spoken against school classes where the majority of students are non-Austrian and said he is in favour of more “mixing”.

A spokesman for Mayor Michael Häupl (SPÖ) said that “a lack of citizenship has nothing to do with a failure to integrate.”

Statistics from the mayor’s office show that the biggest number of immigrants (84 percent) are from EU countries, and that more than half of all immigrants in Vienna are aged between 20 and 29 years old. 44 percent of them have a university degree. The mayor's spokesman said that even if immigration brings certain challenges it also clearly “profits” the city.

However, Manfred Juraczka from the ÖVP said that the SPÖ and Green coalition has failed to tackle some of the immigration failures of recent years and called for “integration through achievement”.

Pollsters have said that the right-wing Freedom Party, with its anti-immigration policy, stands to benefit strongly from anti-immigration sentiment.