I keep finding myself in discussions about the questions being asked in the Vienna referendum. Not everyone is happy about the four questions on offer – loaded questions, restricted answers, why that question and not this? To be fair most people I chat with seem to have a view about the issues being raised but the talk keeps being interspersed with laughed, cynicism and frustration. I know of one person who has gone to the trouble of adding his own answers to the (postal) ballot paper in protest at the options available. My chats have been with friends from across the Austrian political spectrum so I wouldn’t say the frustrations are particularly party political amongst the electorate.
All of this comes hot on the heels of the national Conscription referendum (January 2013) in which many people I talked with (for or against) were unhappy about the level of information and debate on which to base their decisions.
So before the whole referendum approach becomes a complete turn-off for the public – it’s always argued that its validity is meant to be about increasing participation and political legitimacy – I have an idea:
Let’s introduce a law that requires all referendum to include a ‘recall option’
The advantage of this would be to encourage high quality questions, positive choice of answers, and allow people to express their support or dissatisfaction with a specific referendum process. Simple, clear and might just increase participation…….or do you have a better idea?