“We decide”

The right to binding popular vote is to be incorporated into the Austrian Federal Constitution

The 40th plebiscite in the Second Republic (title: “We decide”) wants the inclusion of the referendum as an unrestricted right of the electorate in the Austrian Federal Constitution.
From 100,000 votes onwards, a mandatory plebiscite on legal propositions should be possible. In the future, the so-called noncommittal referendum can also lead to a binding plebiscite. Parliament must first decide within six months.

The initial situation

  1. Many of our politicians are primarily committed to the interests of their parties (power reserve or empowerment).
  2. This dilutes the democratic principle of Article 1 of the Federal Constitution (B-VG) (parliamentary respectively representative democracy).
  3. The will of the people is not sufficiently represented. In the present situation, many of us feel defense- and powerless against a perfected Austrian political system, supported by a PR specialist, which seems only to be self-sufficient and as a parallel world leads an independent existence away from actual interests of the population.

Powerlessness can lead to extremes, and this must be prevented by an increase of democracy!
It is not enough for a mature, honest, real democracy to vote for the parliament every five years (National Council elections). Even the proposals now made in the government on a “Volksbegehren neu” (“Referendum New”) are by no means sufficient.

What we need

Our democracy needs decisions both taken and abided by jointly through the people’s representatives (parliament) and our citizens.
Of course Parliament should not be made obsolete! However, we citizens should be given the opportunity to intervene in Parliament’s decisions if they do not correspond to the wishes of the majority of the citizens.
The possibility of preventing a parliamentary bill by means of a citizen’s vote is intended to prompt our people’s representatives to make their decisions by including the citizens more than currently and therefore to provide them with sufficient information and involve them in the preparation.
Undemocratic decision-making processes can thus be prevented.

This is how it will be in the future

What is new?

1. The revolutionary in the popular movement “We decide”: In the future, the electorate can force plebiscites.If 100,000 voters demand it, a plebiscite must take place before a law comes into force. Exceptions should only be urgent cases if there is a threat to our country. This is currently not possible.

The National Council must make a decision within six months by means of a referendum. A referendum on this decision will also be possible.

2. If 100,000 voters demand it, every final parliamentary resolution must also be able to be subject to a plebiscite by way of a referendum. In order to ensure this, the Constitution also provides for a maximum period of six months for the parliamentary execution of referendums. Thus, in the future, referendums will no longer be noncommittal (“toothless”) and thus cannot be left untreated.

At the moment Parliament has to deal with a referendum, but does not decide. So, at the moment, referendums are not binding.
Our goal: No law against the will of the citizens.
The possibility to demand a referendum against parliamentary resolutions (right of appeal) would already be the yellow card, which discourages the parliament from holding something against the majority of the electorate.
For this reason, projects are to be discussed intensively with the interested population, at least from the governmental decision, but better still earlier. If this would not happen and Parliament would do something without having the consent of the citizens, the red card threatens by means of a veto against the parliamentary resolution by plebiscite.
Many very important details will have to be settled in execution laws. For this, see the already existing implementing laws of the countries, which are already familiar with the before mentioned corrective (e.g. Lower Austria, Burgenland or Vorarlberg).

“Clock Tools”

With these new regulations, we Austrians have a binding, truly democratic instrument in our hands, which we can use, if necessary, to set a new course for the future or even for a political corrective.
This is of crucial socio-political significance for the future of our democracy. Why? Because, contrary to the political promises and plights, our country does not develop further in many fundamental areas.
We citizens thus gain that influence that should be self-evident in each democracy.

Who is the initiator of the referendum?

The society ACHT (www.acht-austria.com). Independently. Non-party. Absolutely incorruptible.
We want power to really come from the people. In the sense of an honest, true democracy.

Concluding remarks

1. Compulsory referendums are already envisaged in numerous constitutions, including in Austrian federal constitutions.
2. The current government has also acknowledged more citizens’ participation in its program.
In concrete terms, it says: “The coalition is committed to the sensible addition of representative democracy through direct-democratic institutions”.
We therefore demand nothing “impossible” or even “absurd”, but to a certain extent only the fulfillment of the corresponding coalition agreement.      •

Contact persons:
Mag. Thomas Rathammer, chairman of the association ACHT
RA Dr Karl-Heinz Plankel, Vice-President and press officer of the association ACHT
Prof DI Dr Heinz Wohlmeyer, Cashier association ACHT
DDr Karl Lengheimer, Austrian constitutional expert

For further information please contact: RA Dr. Karl-Heinz Plankel, A-1010 Vienna, Bartensteingasse 16/11, Tel.: +43 1 4020925,
kanzlei.wien(at)anwaelte-dornbirn.at 
For more information, visit www.acht-austria.com

(Translation Current Concerns)

The original text of the plebiscite

The following sentences are to be added to Article 43 B-VG:

A referendum on a bill is also to be carried out if at least 100,000 eligible voters of the collectively enfranchised people demand it. Moreover, a plebiscite on a bill or another resolution to be taken by the National Council for the execution of a referendum shall be taken within six months, if required by 100,000 signatories of the plebiscite or other eligible voters.

The following sentence is to be added to Article 46 (3) B-VG:

This federal law also has to regulate the cases in which a popular vote on a bill has to be omitted because of danger in delay.
(Translation Current Concerns)