by Meret Baumann
In Austria the two Public Initiatives "Against Church Privileges" and "Democracy Now!" have failed to reach the required number of 100,000 signatures. But its proponents missed not only this particular requirement for consideration in Parliament: never before have such initiatives found so few supporters as these two. In the week-long period running until Monday evening [of 22 April], around 70,000 persons signed the democracy initiative, according to the Interior Ministry, and 56,700 signed against church privileges.
However, the poor result especially of the democracy initiative is a surprise. In January the referendum on conscription tempted around half of all voters to the ballot box, notwithstanding insufficient information on the part of the authorities and uncertain [political] consequences. The demand for more direct democracy was on everyone’s lips, and Switzerland was constantly cited as a model. […]