The non-partisan EU exit referendum that was exclusively initiated by citizens is history and the preliminary result has just been announced by the ministry of interior: 261,159 Austrians visited their municipal office or magistrate last week and publicly committed themselves to the independence of Austria.
For a pure citizen referendum – without any support of a party, big sponsors or the media – a great result! Thus, the goal of conducting a binding referendum on the EU exit has approached by a major step.
“261,159 personal signatures given in presence of the authorities for the recovery of freedom, self-determination and neutrality of Austria are a great success of the independent citizens’ movement”, Inge Rauscher, initiator and representative of the referendum, commented the result.
The EU exit referendum is the second most successful referendum of the last ten years! The issue of Austria’s withdrawal from the EU is therefore definitely on Parliament’s agenda and the parties will have to deal with it, because the signatories indeed come from all parties indeed and from the large number of non-voters. This remarkable result was achieved despite the most adverse conditions: extensive media boycott, fixing the date for the registration on the first holiday week by the Minister of the Interior (which would exclude all tourists to foreign countries from the referendum), a lot of disinformation by the authorities rendered to citizens who were willing to sign – opening times, local registration offices which were closed despite official “opening times”, hard to find or poorly marked entries, destruction and theft of poster stands in many villages, etc.
Veterinary and animal rights activists Dr Franz-Joseph Plank, also a member of the independent persons committee, added: “In case more people had known about this referendum, many more would certainly have signed”. Even the Wirtschaftsblatt found in a recent survey that 40% of the electorate clearly advocate Austria’s withdrawal of from the EU! Thus, our Representatives need not fear a binding referendum, as it is demanded in the – unfortunately non-binding – referendum. The fear of many EUphorics goes obviously so far as to even repeatedly removing some of the poster stands, signs and stickers – personally set up by myself – in the area Laaben-Neulengbach (Lower Austria): They were destroyed or even stolen! Similar reports were also coming from other states. Is this really compatible with a lived democracy? “
Inge Rauscher sums up: “It must be assumed that at least one third of the Austrian population did not know that there was this referendum. The result was indeed without support from parties, without any funding from major sponsors and exclusively through the dissemination of hundreds volunteers which could distribute a total of around 900,000 information leaflets and many other documents throughout Austria, as well as through social media and numerous dedicated alternative media.”
“The struggle for the restoration of freedom, self-determination and neutrality is far from being fought. Because only now the struggle for a referendum on Austria’s withdrawal from the EU begins that will be binding for the government! This result of our pure citizens referendum under very adverse conditions is a very clear mandate”, concludes Inge Rauscher. •
(Translation Current Concerns)
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