24 years of Mayor Michael Häupl in Vienna - a successful track record

No mayor before him has left such a big mark on the city: Michael Häupl has held the reins of the city for 24 years and has turned Vienna into a modern and cosmopolitan million-strong metropolis.

Häupl with a view of Vienna

On 24 May, Mayor Häupl hands over his office to his successor, Michael Ludwig. Under Michael Häupl's record-setting leadership, Vienna has emerged as an attractive city, which has topped the Mercer ranking of the world’s most liveable cities without interruption since 2009 and has led to considerable growth. During Häupl's tenure, Vienna’s population grew from 1.5 million in 1994 to currently more than 1.8 million inhabitants.

Infrastructure for more than 2 million people

Mayor Michael Häupl at the opening of the extension of underground line U3 to Simmering

Important infrastructure projects such as the new Vienna Central Station or the extension of the U1, U2, U3 and U6 underground lines have been implemented to accommodate the city's growth. Altogether, the city's public transport network was expanded by more than 300 kilometres to about 935 kilometres between 1994 and 2016. Important measures in the further development of Vienna’s underground transport network such as the introduction of the new U5 line and another extension of the U2 line were also put on track under Mayor Häupl.

Owing to a citizens' consultation which revealed a majority of citizens in favour of an all-night underground service, this service is now running on weekends and on the days before public holidays. The number of public transport users has reached a record high, also due to the 365-euro public transport annual ticket, which was introduced under Mayor Häupl in 2012. In 2017, 961.7 million passengers used Vienna’s tram, bus and underground services, compared to 687 million in 1995. The trend of using the environmentally-friendly transport modes of tram, bus or underground instead of one’s own car has continued unchanged since Häupl took office in 1994. A modal split analysis shows that public means of transport are currently used for more than half of all journeys in the city. Currently, there are more holders of public transport annual tickets than registered cars in Vienna.

Efficient public administration for a growing city

Despite the massive increase in population, the number of employees in Vienna's City Administration has remained constant over Mayor Häupl's term of office. Vienna’s administration is efficient and the city ensures that its residents have access to services of general interest.

Vienna’s green heart: half of the city's area is green space

In 1996, when Mayor Michael Häupl started his tenure, 9,300 hectare of Vienna’s floodplain area were designated as the Donau-Auen National Park and the Vienna Biosphere Park. In addition to managing the spring protection areas which serve as the source for Vienna's mountain spring water, the large-scale modernisation of the 3,000-kilometre water pipeline network has secured the city's unique water supply with first-quality mountain spring water.

Cutting-edge education including free kindergartens and campus schools

In 2009, Vienna decided to launch the largest programme yet to support middle income groups in Austria for the past decades and eliminated kindergarten fees for 45,000 children from 0 up to 6 years old. Under the lead of Mayor Häupl, Vienna’s education policy has focused primarily on campus schools which combine a kindergarten, all-day primary school and lower secondary school in one location, thus enabling children from 0 to 14 years to learn together at one school. Of course, all of these schools meet state-of-the-art educational standards as Vienna's education policy is a role model for all of Austria.

A matter of heartfelt importance: making Vienna a city of knowledge

Vienna has developed from a city of smoking chimneys into a city of smoking heads. The number of research facilities has increased by 73 percent, from 894 (1994) to 1,554 (2015). During Häupl's term, Vienna became one of the big players in Europe's biotechnology landscape. In general, a lot of effort was made in promoting the fields of science, research and technology to turn Vienna into a city of knowledge.

This is also reflected in Vienna's population: every fourth resident in Vienna has a university degree. With 175,500 students, Vienna is currently the largest university city in the German-speaking region. And by hosting the Ball of Sciences in 2015, Vienna's scientific community has also found its way onto the city’s calendar of balls.

Economic driver and attractive location for international businesses

Education and research are also driving forces of job creation and innovation. Since 1994, employment has risen by 7 percent - despite the economic crisis of 2008 and its consequences - and the number of workplaces has doubled to 143,000 over the same period of time. Simultaneously, the gross regional product has increased by 84 percent between 1995 and 2016.

Vienna hosts the headquarters of more than 200 international companies. The city is also the seat of 32 international organisations, such as the United Nations (UN), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

Tourist magnet and one of the top conference cities in the world

These facts and figures underline Vienna’s excellent international reputation, which also benefits the city's tourism sector. With 15.5 million overnight stays per year their number has nearly tripled since 1994.

In 2016, Vienna was the venue of 1,320 conferences, which entailed 1.4 million overnight stays - three times as many as at the start of Häupl’s term in 1994.

City of culture

Michael Häupl with Conchita Wurst

Michael Häupl with Conchita Wurst

Mayor Häupl has consolidated Vienna’s reputation as a world capital of culture. 2001 witnessed the opening of the MuseumsQuartier (MQ), one of the world’s largest complexes for arts and culture with 3.6 million visitors per year.

In 2006, after a brief interlude as a musical stage, the Theater an der Wien was brought back to its origins as an opera theatre focusing on Baroque operas and modern music theatre.

Public concerts such as the Popfest on Karlsplatz, Electric Spring, or the traditional opening of the Vienna Festival on Rathausplatz complement the wide range of musical entertainment Vienna has to offer.

Another focus of Mayor Häupl's work has been Vienna's culture of remembrance, reflected in the opening of the Deserters' Monument on Ballhausplatz in 2014, or in the restoration of Jewish cemeteries like the one in Seegasse in Vienna’s district of Alsergrund.

International large-scale events

Vienna is also an internationally successful host of large-scale events. The UEFA European Football Championship 2008, the Eurovision Song Contest 2015, the Beach Volleyball World Championship 2017 or events like the UEFA Champions League Final 1995, the Ice Hockey World Championship 1996, the European Handball Championship 2010, the American Football World Championship 2011, the European Baseball Championships 2013 and 2015 or recurring events such as the Vienna City Marathon or the ATP 500 Tennis Open in the Stadthalle complex provide ample proof that Vienna is able to manage large-scale events in a safe and efficient way.

A city with a big heart – Vienna leaves nobody behind

During the Balkan Wars in the middle of the 1990s Vienna extended a helping hand to its neighbours in need, and the city also gave shelter to refugees fleeing from murder, terror, and hunger during the European refugee crisis in 2015. With regard to social policy, Mayor Häupl has embraced the approaches of "integration from day one" and of providing help in emergency situations. Michael Häupl's political activities have always been shaped by respect and thoughtfulness as well as humanity and good organisation.

Vienna’s basic benefit scheme enables all residents of the city to enjoy Vienna's high quality of life independent of their income or background.

Excellent public healthcare in international comparison

Vienna's public healthcare system enjoys an excellent reputation worldwide. With the hospital reform 2030, Häupl has set the course for the adaptation of Vienna’s healthcare services to the needs of a growing city. Europe's most modern hospital with 800 beds will open in Vienna's district of Floridsdorf next year.

Affordable housing for all

A city-funded housing programme ensures that housing will continue to be affordable in the future. Under Mayor Häupl, the city has developed new areas, such as aspern - Vienna’s Urban Lakeside, Sonnwendviertel, Eurogate or Monte Laa. In addition to these new neighbourhoods, Mayor Häupl has also continued the city-funded refurbishment of old residential buildings under Vienna's soft urban renewal programme.

"My frogs are not stupid!"

Helmut Zilk and Michael Häupl

Michael Häupl and his predecessor Helmut Zilk in 1994

As a biologist and expert on amphibians, Häupl, who was born in Altlengbach on 14 September 1949 into a family of teachers, has always envisioned a career in research, before Vienna's then Mayor Helmut Zilk in 1988 invited him into the city government with the words "I need you in politics, you can count your stupid frogs later", Häupl remembers his beginnings in Vienna’s city council. Häupl accepted his new task - but not without telling Zilk, "My frogs are not stupid." On 7 November 1994 the city council elected Michael Häupl as the new Mayor of Vienna.

Häupl was the top candidate in five municipal elections in Vienna and in two of them, in 2001 and 2005, he gained the absolute majority of votes. In 2010, he formed a coalition government with the Greens - a first for Austrian politics - which was continued in 2015.

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