Between 24 June and 1 July 261,159 Austrians signed the petition for an Austrian EU exit in the presence of the municipal authorities with their names, dates of birth and passports – despite extremely difficult general conditions: the media’s almost complete hushing-up in spite of twelve press conferences in the months before the registration week, to which all journalists had been invited; the scheduling of the registration week by the Home Secretary on the last week of June, when many families with pre-school children and many pensioners are already on holiday, or, for instance, missing fact sheets in Viennese houses with information about registration offices and their opening times, etc..
The EU exit referendum was neither financed nor supported by any parliamentary party’s or other public funding nor by any big private sponsors, but only by thousands of “common” citizens, who had handed out about 900,000 information sheets in total and other documents in voluntary personal contribution of many working days, weeks and months. With all these activities and our activities on the internet and via social media we were of course not able to reach the total of 6.4 million eligible voters in Austria, so that at least one third, if not half of them did not even know about the existence of the referendum, let alone when and where it could be signed. The biggest scandal in this respect was that this citizens’ movement was completely ignored by the Austrian Press Agency APA. In the months before and during the so-called educational referendum of industrial magnate Hannes Androsch, APA had sent almost 70 detailed press releases to all media, before and during the independent EU exit referendum a total of six! However, the bun was taken by the ORF (Austrian Broadcasting korporation): The referendum was dealt with on television for exactly 1.2 hours? No: 1.2 minutes!
Against this background, it is clear that the EU exit referendum as a pure citizens’ petition has been a great success and a clear mandate for parliamentary parties to decide in autumn – when the referendum will have to be officially dealt with in parliament – for what a quarter of a million of Austrian citizens have already demanded in their petition, a binding governmental referendum on the withdrawal from the EU, worded in accordance with the text of the citizens’ referendum.
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