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Background: Popular Petitions in Austria

A Volksbegehren, or popular petition, is one of three instruments of direct democracy guaranteed by the Austrian constitution. Unlike a referendum, it is not legally binding; nevertheless, the issue raised by a popular petition must be discussed by Parliament when its support exceeds 100,000 valid signatures. Hence, such petitions can fuel the public debate, but often don’t […]

The People May Petition, But Will Lawmakers Listen?

The People May Petition, But Will Lawmakers Listen?

Popular petitions (Volksbegehren) enable the electorate to initiate the law-making procedure. Yet the outcome of petitions is not binding for legislators, in contrast to plebiscites (Volksabstimmung), where the electorate decides whether a proposed law is passed. “Only in very few cases have popular petitions in Austria actually yielded concrete results,” conceded Eva Glawischnig, head of […]

School Reform: Austria Petitions for Change

School Reform: Austria Petitions for Change

“Don’t worry, we’ll sign very quickly”, calls out a lady in her 60s queuing outside the  darkened Magistrat building at Elterleinplatz in the 17th District. There are 45 minutes left for her to sign a petition demanding radical reform of the Austrian education system. At 20:00 on 10 Nov., when the polling station closed, 383,820 Austrians […]

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