The subject of the referendum was a law on citizen participation initiated by the ruling South Tyrolean’s People Party. 65,1 per cent of all voters opted against the legislation, while it was approved by 34,9 per cent. The turnout was high at 26,4 per cent. The decision by the citizens stops legislation that would have put high barriers to citizens’ direct decision-making.
“It is great to see that the people of South Tyrol have thumped on their right to effective and citizen-friendly direct democracy. Our congratulations go to the Initiative for More Democracy in South Tyrol that ran an excellent campaign against the SVP’s legislation”, comments Gerald Häfner, chairperson of Democracy International, a citizens’ movement that unites democracy activists from all around the world.
In June 2013 the parliament of South Tyrol had adopted legislation on citizen participation that according to the initiators, the ruling South Tyrolean’s People Party, was to newly govern direct democracy in the autonomous province by replacing the existing law of 2005. For Democracy International however, the new law would have put serious obstacles to realising a citizen-initiated law proposal. Most importantly, an additional amount of 26.000 signatures would have needed to be collected.
To stop the legislation on citizen participation from entering into force, democracy activists of the “Initiative for More Democracy” in South Tyrol triggered the facultative, confirmative referendum by collecting 17.763 signatures. 8000 signatures actually were required for the referendum, which subsequently was held yesterday. The Initiative for More Democracy in South Tyrol, which had campaigned with about 100 volunteers against the legislation on citizen participation, now hopes to realise its own law proposal, which it had brought into the South Tyrolean parliament as part of the referendum campaign in 2013.
“Everywhere throughout Europe we see citizens’ strong will to be included directly in decision-making. Politicians should give way to these desires and not dilute them with flawed regulations” so Gerald Häfner on behalf of Democracy International.