Manifesto



On September 29th, all of Austria will vote for a new national assembly - all of Austria? Not really, since there's almost a million people in this country that are not allowed to vote. WahlweXel jetzt! doesn't expect politicians and the state to positively intervene in this problematic situation in years to come. 'We are of the opinion that every person counts. The passive and active right to vote should be no privilege, it's really a minimum requirement for 'democracy.' WahlweXel jetzt! opening a space for residents who don't have the right to vote in Austria co-decide and participate in the 2013 parliamentary elections.

Many people who live, work and were also born in Austria are not allowed to vote here. It's only people in possession of Austrian citizenship, people who can afford it, persons over 16 years of age and persons who aren't serving a prison sentence longer than 5 years that are allowed to goo to the ballots. The same applies to passive electoral law, where the age limit is however 18 years. Yet 11.2% of Austria's estimated 8.5 million inhabitants do not have Austrian citizenship - in Vienna that's 21.7% of inhabitants being excluded from political participation.

WahlweXel jetzt! wants to put this issue on the agenda and provocatively intervene in it.

WahlweXel jetzt! wants to kick off a debate about fundamental questions of democracy and give impulses for a broader conceptualisation of democracy, one that reaches beyond the description of a political system with corresponding institutions and organs. Contrasting with such broadenings of the notion of democracy there are the contemporary tendencies of de-democratisation we variously experience - often wrongly discussed under the auspices of a 'rejection of politics'. WahlweXel jetzt! prefers to speak about a crisis of legitimacy concerning representative politics: decisions that concern many are being taken by increasingly few and non-elected actors, by 'experts', 'roundtables' or 'lobbying agencies'. This means that politics is rendered intangible and removed from spheres of social negotiation. We thus have 1 Million people without the right to vote on the one hand, and on the other hand 1.3 million who at the previous elections in 2008 chose not to make use of their right.

WahlweXel jetzt! is not a new thing, rather it is grounded in the demands of diverse initiatives, organisations and social movements struggling for a democratisation of society. The history of democracy is one of struggles around inclusion and democratic participation, still being written as we speak: just as the right to vote was initially bound to people's economic status and needed a social movement to win the right for all white men to vote, it also took a strong women's movement to win the vote for women in 1918.

WahlweXel jetzt! wants to further engage this open-ended process of deepening and broadening democracy. In a society of social justice and solidarity, political participation cannot be dependent upon origin, sex/gender or income. This is why we think it's high time - particularly in times of transnational migration - to extend the right to vote to everyone who lives here. In an age where flows of money and capital have long gone uninhibited, the movements of people are still subjected to the authoritarian regulation of state and supranational (such as Frontex) Institutions. Yet transnational migration is a reality that can only be appropriately addressed in granting all people full equality. Alongside social and economic aspects this also concerns the possibility of participating in a societies' democratic decision-making processes.

WahlweXel jetzt! struggles for a concept of democracy that takes all spheres of life into account. As became apparent in recent social movements - from Occupy Wallstreet to Plaza del Sol in Madrid, to Tahrir and Taksim - a crucial aspect of this concerns how democratic participation can be put into practice, yet another one also concerns the what of democratic negotiation.