Vienna’s Citizens: No to Olympic Games in 2028
Democracy International demands binding direct democracy initiated by the citizens
Strasbourg, 12 March 2013: Vienna’s voters have opted not to host the Olympic Games in their city in summer 2028. With a voter turnout of almost 30 per cent, 72 per cent voted against applying for the world’s biggest sporting event. As announced today, this is the preliminary result of a people’s consultation that was held in the Austrian capital from 7 until 9 March 2013. However, the consultation is non-binding, leaving the Mayor of Vienna Michael Häupl (SPÖ – Social Democrats) the upper hand whether to accept the decision by his residents.
“It is great that the government of Vienna responds to citizens’ demand for more inclusion in political decision-making. This is the current trend that we not only see in Switzerland. Yet direct democracy means taking citizens seriously. People must have the option to draft their own initiatives, and then politicians must turn into law what citizens decide at the ballot box. Otherwise, these consultative exercises ridicule the idea of democracy, and instead use citizens for the game of politics“ comments Gerald Häfner, Chairperson of Democracy International and Member of European Parliament.
The people’s consultation in Vienna ran under the theme “Wien will’s wissen” (Vienna wants to find out). Besides the Olympic Games voters were asked three other questions: on how to improve the situation of parking in Vienna, on whether to develop renewable energies and on whether to protect from privatisation public services such as water and public transport. Approximately 1.1 million people were entitled to participate in the people’s consultation. Eligible was any Austrian citizen permanently residing in Vienna older than 16 years on the days of the consultation.
“EU citizens should have been allowed to vote as well as any other foreign citizen. The decisions affect everybody living in Vienna regardless of nationality. Therefore, the electoral register should be open to anybody who resides permanently in the Austrian capital” demands Gerald Häfner.
Democracy International, the global coalition for direct democracy in the nation states, in Europe and in the world and its partner organisation mehr demokratie! österreich have evaluated the people’s consultation according to a referendum checklist developed by academic experts around the Initiative & Referendum Institute (IRI Europe). The report criticises that citizens were called to take part in a vote with non-binding consequences, that the consultation was used as an instrument by the ruling political parties and that questions on the ballot were formulated too vaguely, leaving room for manipulation and misunderstanding.
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