Who will be Austria’s next president?

Who will be Austria’s next president?

Direct democracy as a touchstone

cc. In the following article the editors of “Wegwarte” take a look at the current political situation in Austria. The country is back in an election campaign, and we can only hope that an emotional camp-style election campaign will not be staged again, in which rational arguments do no longer count.
After major irregularities in the runoff from 22 May between Norbert Hofer and Dr Alexander van der Bellen to the Austrian Federal President, the Constitutional Court decided in July that the election has to be repeated on 2 October.
“Wegwarte” is the communication organ of the “Initiative Heimat & Umwelt” (Home & Environment). The initiative is actively engaged in more than 260,000 citizens calling for a referendum on Austria’s withdrawal from the EU. Up to now the Austrian Parliament puts its foot down.

In a few weeks the result of the second runoff to the Austrian Federal President shall be established. Here, two things will turn out: first, whether again “all against one”, namely against Hofer, are fielded – from parties to media, allegedly independent NGOs, church circles, and so on. As if conducted by an invisible hand this united front in a supposedly “pluralistic” democracy was already a monstrosity at the 22 May run off which revealed an ideological conformity of almost all “systemically important”, i.e. financially strong circles in our country. This is frightening and within the extend of the permitted range of opinions it is taking on more and more totalitarian traits. And secondly, whether the FPÖ is serious about its first run off election campaign’s promise (prior to 22 May) to introduce direct democracy.
For us, it was clear from scratch that Dr van der Bellen, due to his entire philosophy as promotor of the globalisation and being in thrall to the EU and advocate of Merkel’s irresponsible immigration policy, is far away from the real concerns of the local working population, which is crucial for the existence of each country. That is why before the first run off we distributed from house to house a distict flyer with arguments against Dr van der Bellen after the motto: “Austria does not need another backer of ‘Brussels’ EU as president!” – Some 200,000 (!) pieces were distributed by numerous like-minded people in weeks of work throughout Austria; the costs of printing and dispatch – a total of around 7,000 euros – were supported by the Initiative Home & Environment. Voluntary contributions to cover these costs would help us a lot!
In the first two runoffs direct democracy was pre-eminently addressed by liberal candidate Engineer Hofer through many statements in interviews and through the nationwide poster campaign with the slogan “Law emanates from the people”. So, for instance, an FPÖ press release of 12 March literally said: “Hofer announ-ces to insist on the development of direct democratic elements in the government programme before inauguration of a new Federal Government … Switzerland’s model has proven itself over decades …”
And in its party programme the FPÖ postulates that mandatory referendums may be initiated by a popular petition of 250,000 signatures already. The popular petition for withdrawal from the EU has obtained 261,056 signatures!
For many Austrians the question now is: How serious is the FPÖ about its own postulations also with regard to the oncoming election campaign for the Federal Presidential office and beyond? And should there be public opinion polls/referendums for all subjects or only for “designated” ones, convenient to the powerful? It’s on this basis that many citizens will measure this election campaign.

What does direct democracy on the model of Switzerland mean?

This worldwide admired and unique system means: From a number of 100,000 signatures freely collected on the road or from house to house (without the in our country necessary consulting of authorities notaries) for a concern without any objective restriction an obligatory referendum must be scheduled, whose result then is binding for the government. Thus on four Referendum Sundays a year usually several referendums take place every year (in Austria only two in more than seventy years of the 2nd Republic). And no politician – neither a chancellor nor a president – is allowed to prevent such constitutional votes.

The Federal President’s responsibilities

The Federal President’s responsibilities are largely underestimated. He plays a very important role in the mutual control and balance within the power structure of National Council – Government – Federal President. Since he is the only state functionary at the federal level anyway that is directly elected by the whole people, he is conceded extensive rights in the Constitution. That is reasonable. But the recent Federal Presidents have practically never used these rights, because they have always been extended arms of the red-black government party/parties.

EU will fund NATO directly!

Since recent EU decisions, the increasingly aggressive military alliance NATO is to be financed directly from the EU – amongst others with the money of the taxpayers of the “neutral” Austria. See www.deutsche-wirtschaftsnachrichten.de (http://bit.ly/2aJ1EjF).
That will significantly harm Austria, because it forces our country, in addition to the economic sanctions, in an ominous confrontation with the Russian Federation and brings Austria into the focus of international terror. That can only be undone by a withdrawal from the EU.

Referendums on EU issues in other states

Not only in Great Britain, in other countries too, there have been respectively will be plebiscites on EU issues this year. In the Netherlands, a referendum on the Association Agreement between the EU and Ukraine, which was seen as a precursor to an EU accession of Ukraine, took place on 6 April. It had been brought about by citizens’ initiatives. For the validity of the referendum, a voter turnout of over
30 % was required, which was achieved with 32.2%. The result yielded a clear “no” of the population: 61.1% were against it, only 38.1% were in favour. All other 27 EU member states – including Austria – have already ratified this agreement, which two years ago led to the bloody coup in Ukraine and the, since then, raging civil war there. Although the referendum is not formally binding the Parliament in the Netherlands, it is difficult to pass over such clear referendum result, which was interpreted by many commentators as a general opposition to the EU.
In Hungary there will be a referendum on refugee policy of the EU on 2 October brought about by Orban’s government. The following question will be put to the vote: “Do you wish the European Union to order the compulsory settlement of non-Hungarian citizens in Hungary without the consent of the Hungarian Parliament?”

Did you know that …?

Every country that wants to leave the EU has two years, from receipt of the notice of resignation in Brussels, to negotiate an agreement on the exit arrangements with the EU. Should such not be achieved (because of possible adverse conditions), the state willing to leave the EU is not obliged to conclude any agreement. Then, resignation automatically comes into force after two years. This is clearly enshrined in Art. 50 of the EU Treaty (TEU).
The horror scenarios that are currently distributed in turn by the establishment are therefore not to be taken seriously.

Dr van der Bellen

Dr van der Bellen is not worth considering for EU opponents and neutrality advocates for the following reasons: because of his uncritical endorsement of non-democratically legitimised EU rule over formerly independent, free states; because of his advocacy of NATO and thus the global wars of aggression and of destabilisation of the US and its vassals (including the EU); because of his advocacy of genetic engineering and of a neoliberal, group dominated economic order and financial oligarchy. His repeated statements not to swear an EU “hostile” government into office, even if they should have the majority of votes in parliament, are evidence of the lack of democracy, as well as his aversion to direct democratic decisions in factual issues. Even his efforts to limit the constitutional powers of the President – as the only government official at the federal level that is directly elected by the people – in the field of control of the government are to be rejected. For environmentalists, it is also strange that, besides the green parlamentarians, one of the main financiers of his “independent” campaign is just the building tycoon Hans Peter Haselsteiner with more than EUR 100,000!     •

Source: Wegwarte. Mitteilungen der Initiative Heimat&Umwelt. Episode 4, August 2016

(Translation Current Concerns)

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