Possible new mayor of constance: the green-left charmer

Luigi Pantisano could be elected as the new mayor of Constance on Sunday. The leftist is supported by a broad alliance.

Poster boy for bourgeois as well as climate activists: Luigi Pantisano wants to become mayor of Constance Photo: private/dpa

The man already has a streetlamp bearing his name in Constance. The so-called Luigi Pantisano memorial luminaire illuminates a skaters’ square and is a reminder of the time when the studied urban planner started his first job as a neighborhood manager in Constance.

Ten years later, Luigi Pantisano now wants to become mayor of the city on Lake Constance. And his chances are very good on Sunday, because in the first round of voting, supported by a broad alliance of Greens, leftists and movements such as Fridays for Future, he won by two and a half percent over the incumbent Uli Burchardt (CDU).

Even four days before the election, his stand at the market in the Petershausen district is surrounded by people. "The election campaign is the most beautiful time," says Luigi Pantisano good-humoredly, while next door the still incumbent mayor packs his things early. "People want to talk and discuss."

With election campaigning, Luigi Pantisano, just 40 years old, already has some experience. As a 16-year-old, the son of Italian guest workers is already campaigning for a youth center in his hometown of Waiblingen. At 18, he runs for a local council for the first time. At the same time, he worked his way up through secondary school and an apprenticeship as a draftsman to become an architect and urban planner.

Left-wing lightness

Politics always accompanies him. Usually together with his friend Hannes Rockenbauch, a figurehead of the Stuttgart 21 protests, with whom he has been sitting on the Stuttgart City Council since 2016 for the "Stuttgart okologisch Sozial" (Stuttgart Ecological Social) voters’ association. He says of his companion, "Luigi is capable of forming alliances and likes working with people."

Then came the call from Constance. The broad progressive alliance of parties and climate activists is just one secret to Pantisano’s success in Lake Constance. But mayoral elections nowhere hinge on personality as much as in Baden-Wurttemberg. And Luigi Pantisano, it has to be said, is a real charmer, and not just in the street campaign. With his youthful appearance, curly head and discreetly fashionable clothing, he has what it takes to be a poster boy for both the bourgeois and the climate change activists.

Politics has been mainly a hobby for him so far, he says lightly, although he makes his living as an employee in the constituency office of (still) Left Party leader Bernd Riexinger and with the local council allowance.

But with this ease, he cornered the incumbent Uli Burchardt in the extended Corona election campaign. The latter had been somewhat sullen, aloof and, in the end, offended during the election campaign. Burchardt had entered the race eight years ago as a Green conservative. In climate issues, however, the former management consultant and author of a sustainability book has distinguished himself during his time in office more through announcements than through far-reaching changes.

It’s getting close

A few weeks ago, when the city council was debating whether the city should become climate-neutral as early as 2030 or later, Burchardt cast his vote in favor of the unspecified later date. This no vote could now tip the scales in Pantisano’s favor. But it will be close: He won the first ballot by less than a thousand votes.

Nonetheless, Pantisano is going for a clear edge. Climate-neutral by 2030 means less traffic, more alternative energies and climate-neutral construction. He wants to counter the housing shortage with more municipal housing and a buyback of land. That’s not even left-wing, he says. "That’s what the Association of Cities recommends," Pantisano says. Private new construction, which Burchardt recommends, is in any case not a recipe, the urban planner emphasizes, and immediately quotes a suitable study.

A woman at the election booth wants to know if he already has an apartment, and she no longer doubts that he will win. Not yet, says Luigi Pantisano. But he is already looking forward to placing an ad after election day: "Mayor seeks apartment.