Fidest – Agenzia giornalistica/press agency

Quotidiano di informazione – Anno 31 n° 344

Municipal Elections in Vienna

Posted by fidest press agency su domenica, 10 ottobre 2010

In Vienna, Austria, 20,7 % of the population are not entitled to vote for the city council, because they are not Austrian citizens. In some districts of Vienna, almost 70% of the population cannot even vote for their district council, because they are not EU citizens. This massive exclusion from the polls has become a major problem for democracy. This deficit in Austrian democracy became a European problem in February 2000 when the extreme right Freedom party became part of the government. Since then, Austria has been setting the pace for the shift to the right throughout Europe. It is high time to repair democracy.
For the local elections on Sunday, 10 October, ENARA — the European Network Against Racism Austria — has launched a vote exchange campaign: the Wahlwexel (www.wahlwexel.at). The Wahlwexel gives the possibility to actually vote to people who are excluded from the polls. The principle is simple, easy, and legal. One person, who is entitled to enter the polling booth, passes the decision for whom to vote to a person who is not entitled to vote. This simple concept and campaign created quite a turbulence in Austria, where the right for immigrants to vote is stricty denied by the majority. The nationalist voices were helpless because Wahlwexel cannot be prohibited. The effect of the campaign was to raise awareness for the significant lack of democracy in the heart of Europe. A debate about democracy has been set in motion.
Next, the Wahlwexel campaign will be promoted on the European level with our partners in the European Network Against Racism. The age of the nation-state is over. We live in a globalised world. Therefore political institutions have to adapt to modern times or see the demise of no democracy. The right to vote cannot be restricted only to citizens any more, but has to become a right of all residents throughout Europe. The EU has already promoted the right to vote for residents on a local and regional level. This process of democratisation has to go on and reach national and supranational levels, because most important decisions are taken there. If the EU allows undemocratic systems excluding major parts of the population from political participation, it will fail in its attempt to bring peace, democracy and wealth to its members. Instead, racist hatred will prevail as can be seen in Austria and other European countries today. A movement by civil society against racism in Austria plays a crucial role for Europe.

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