What is "WahlweXel jetzt!"?



WahlweXel jetzt! means that people not eligible to vote can participate in the 2013 parliamentary elections. It is particularly people who are excluded by the electoral law who can cast their vote in this project. This exclusion concerns nearly one Million people in Austria. Just like the 2002 campaign 'Österreich für Alle gleich' and the 2010 Wahlwechsel-Campaign of the ENARA network, WahlweXel jetzt! isn't just about making demands to the state and politics, but bases itself in self-organised and self-determined appropriations of the human right to vote and participate in decision making. This appropriation is accompanied by a media campaign and occurs in the framework of events in public space.

WahlweXel jetzt! raises crucial questions about the democratic content and effectiveness of elections, in times of deep social crisis: what or who is it that might be elected? What's the relation between democracy and work? Does democracy merely consist in voting? What else does the right to democratic participation imply? Is the concept of citizenship as tied to electoral rights still appropriate today? WahlweXel jetzt! poses questions like these in order to spark a broad debate about forms of inclusion and exclusion, co-determination and democracy.

What exactly happens in the framework of 'WahlweXel jetzt!'?

The campaign concerns two levels, one of content and one of action. The central action 'WahlweXel - jetzt aber wirklich!' ['Swap your vote -now- this time for real!'] on 25th September in WUK, takes place a few days before the national election. There we want to enact democratic participation in the framework of a publicly visible event. Before that however, there will be various activities taking place.

On the content level, the plan is to set up info-desks and do media-related actions, as well as facilitate a discussion about 'Das System deiner Träume. Demokratie – Jede Stimme zählt?' ['The system of your dreams. Democracy - every voice is taken into account?'] at  Brunnenpassage on 12th September. We will discuss beyond the elections and raise questions about possibilities of participation and the limits of democratisation.

Why the campaign 'WahlweXel jetzt!'?

Just in time with the parliamentary elections in September 2013, we want to draw attention to the fact that 1 million people who live, work and indeed were also born in Austria are not allowed to vote. 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 are allowed to vote here. The same applies to passive electoral law, where the age limit is however 18 years. But 11.2% of the estimated 8.5 million inhabitants of Austria do not hold Austrian citizenship and in Vienna that's 21.7% of inhabitants who are excluded from political participation.

What does 'WahlweXel jetzt!' want? 

We aim to address the immediate relation of anti-racist practice to representative and parliamentary democracy. The blind spots of real democracy should be discussed in relation to all social spheres - particularly when debating elections, citizenship, the nation state and corresponding representative institutions.

Is 'WahlweXel jetzt!' a new thing? 

The practice of 'WahlweXeln' is not new. It's as recent as 2010 that a public initiative of the anti-racist network ENARA (www.enara.at) organised vote-swapping at the council elections. Addressing migrants as political subjects, WahlweXel jetzt! is also concerned with inclusion, exclusion and consequently with fundamental questions about contemporary and future democracy. Taking the space of the vote is ultimately something people have been practicing for years on a private level.

Who we are

The WahlweXel jetzt! initiative was born out of a collaboration of asylum seekers, migrants, activists and cultural workers. On a general level it deals with practices of social exclusion, and on a concrete level it deals with questions of democratic politics. 'WahlweXel jetzt! Every body and voice counts' is a political initiative taking place in the context of WIENWOCHE, funded by the culture department of the City of Vienna. People currently working on WahlweXel jetzt! are: Martin Birkner, Imayna Caceres, Clifford Erinmwionghae, Fanny Müller-Uri, und Kurto Wendt.