Mehr Demokratie (Austria)

January 22, 2021 Jaskiran Gakhal, Participedia Team
March 3, 2020 Paul Nollen
February 12, 2012 Paul Nollen
September 27, 2010 Paul Nollen

Created in 2006, Mehr Demokratie Austria aims to promote the idea of direct democracy and strengthen direct democratic instruments of citizen participation.

Mission and Purpose

Mehr Demokratie Austria sees itself as part of the democratization movement and works to improve the quality of democracy on all political levels and in all areas of society. Its aims include abolishing barriers which seem to restrict access to direct democracy in Austria as well as guaranteeing free access to media.

According to the current legal situation, referendums must be passed and approved with a simple or two-thirds majority in the National Council. In this case, therefore, it cannot be said that the law proceeds from the people. The citizens elect the members of the National Council every four (in future five) years, but then have no way of initiating votes themselves. Only the so-called referendum is reserved to them, the result of which, however, is not mandatory.

Switzerland is a pioneer of direct democracy. The Swiss have referendums as soon as 100,000 signatures have been collected. It has been shown there that direct democracy has led to greater closeness to the citizen, trust in politics and stability.

Thus, a primary concern of the organization is to give the population the opportunity to initiate referendums themselves to ensure citizen involvement in the development process and in the question of a referendum. In Mehr Demokratie's view, the instruments of direct democracy should not replace representative democracy, but complement it.

Origins and Development

The organization existed since the beginning of 2006 and is independent from any political party.

In Austria, there are some laws which regulate direct democracy and we have different types of referendums. On the one hand, the so called “Volksbegehren” which has been held 32 times since 1964 has only limited effects. The parliament has to discuss the result and is not obliged to pass a new law. This kind of referendum can be initiated by 8023 citizens.

On the other hand, there is a “Volksabstimmung” whose results oblige the parliament to pass a new law. This type of referendum must be permitted by the parliament or the state president and has only been proceeded twice in Austria after the second world war. That kind of referendum cannot be initiated by the citizens.

Organizational Structure, Membership, and Funding

A non-partisan, nonprofit organization, Mehr Demokratie Austria is financed exclusively by donations that are not tied to any conditions.

Specializations, Methods and Tools

In addition to their focus on referendums, media laws are a focus of the organization based on the notion that they are necessary to ensure that citizens are informed in a balanced way when voting. Political television advertising for elections or voting campaigns is not permitted in Switzerland. In Austria, political parties happily advertise and politicians attend rhetoric courses. Mehr Demokratie advocates for open discussion programs instead of targeted propaganda.

The organization uses the potential of the Internet for our activities.

Major Projects and Events

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Analysis and Lessons Learned

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See Also

Mehr Demokratie


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External Links

Mehr Demokratie Austria