Who has the choice

I really like voting. I do this simply because, in my opinion, by not voting you forfeit the invaluable right to nag about the decision-makers (vulgo: politicians) and their decisions. Because refusing a cross and moaning about politicians is a bit like quitting sports, but then whining to your loved ones about the mean beer belly.

In this respect, it pains me doubly that, as a non-Austrian living in Innsbruck, I am not allowed to take part in the Tyrolean state election on Sunday, nor in the election for the Federal President two weeks later. It’s not just me. Around 1.4 million foreigners living in Austria and thus more than every sixth citizen, no: residents of Austria over 16 are excluded from the presidential election because of the wrong nationality. This is shown by data from Statistics Austria evaluated by the APA. 20 years ago there were only 580,000 people. (Nearly 150 years ago, a few thousand large landowners determined almost a quarter of the deputies in the lower house of the Reichsrat, and women’s suffrage came into force in 1918. This only marginally to show the elusiveness of the suffrage).

In the state election on Sunday, the vote waiver is particularly unfortunate

As a convinced European, I think it is at least worth discussing why people who pay taxes in Austria, live here with their families and collect climate bonuses are only allowed to have a say in a few elections (e.g. at municipal level) about what happens to these taxes and which points be made for the family; and why these people have a voice because they come from Bavaria, South Tyrol or the Czech Republic. Politicians, including those from the Neos, have only occasionally called for an extension of the right to vote. That doesn’t necessarily mean that I would vote for the Liberals if I could. Nevertheless, it makes the Neos much more sympathetic than the FPÖ, for example, which generally leaves the impression that only FPÖ voters should be allowed to vote, when the truly incredible FPÖ leader Herbert Kickl is not allowed to become emperor or federal president in the near future .

In any case, in the Tyrolean state elections taking place on Sunday, a vote waiver is particularly unfortunate. Because even Tyrol, where the ÖVP held the absolute majority of seats up until 2008, with one brief exception (1999-2003), is slowly becoming Europeanized when it comes to party landscapes: with a steadily eroding center and – because of the blatant losses of the former black autocrat of up to 15 percentage points – possibly completely new, colorful coalitions. Personally, I believe that the People’s Party’s losses will be lower than forecast. But I still have the feeling that your own vote in the state elections counts far more this time than it did in the days of Governor Eduard Wallnöfer, who regularly achieved more than 60 percent.

Maybe I just have to serve a few more years in Tyrol to find another solution for the election: become Austrian.

This column also appears in the Österreich-Newsletter , which brings together SZ reporting on Austria. Register now for free .

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