The global network CIVICUS gives Austria good marks for its handling of fundamental and civil rights and civil society.
Two years ago, the international non-governmental organization CIVICUS rated the space for civil society in Austria only as „restricted“. As of today, Austria is again considered “open” due to improvements in the last few months. Only three percent of the world’s population live in countries with comparably good conditions.
CIVICUS, a global network of more than 4000 members from over 175 countries, documents with its CIVICUS monitor the threats to the development of civil society around the world. Depending on the number of points achieved on an index of 0-100, a country is considered open, narrowed, obstructed, repressed or closed. Austria is now “open” again and is in the company of Germany, Switzerland, the Benelux countries and Scandinavia. Only three percent of the world’s population live in countries with comparable conditions, where their citizens can found associations, demonstrate peacefully in public places and freely express their opinions.
In today’s press release, CIVICUS refers to the positive change brought about by the 2019 elections and as a result of which the FPÖ was replaced by the Greens in the coalition with the ÖVP. They are more open to a dialogue with civil society organizations, which can thereby make themselves heard again. Many of their demands are now taken into account in the government program. CIVICUS also cites the 700 million euro support fund for nonprofit organizations (NPOs) decided on because of the COVID-19 pandemic as evidence of positive development in Austria.
„The inclusion of CSOs in various consultation processes, including during the COVID-19 pandemic, by the Austrian government is an example of good practice which other states in the region should follow, ” Aarti Narsee, responsible for Europe at CIVICUS, now gives Austria a good report card. In one breath, however, she appeals to the ÖVP urgently to refrain from its anti-migrant rhetoric.
Franz Neunteufl, executive director of the IGO – Interest Group of Public Benefit Organizations and spokesman for ALLIANCE FOR PUBLIC BENEFIT approved: „The participation of our colleagues in the development of the aid measures to overcome the corona crisis is actually a good example of further projects in the government program to promote non-profit and volunteer work.“
In the spring of 2019, IGO came in her Civil Society Index – Update 2019 to a completely different result. At that time there was still talk of tendencies to limit the critical potential of civil society and its participation in political decision-making processes. Neunteufl today: „Even if we do not agree with everything that the government does or does not do, it is important and a sign of a healthy democratic constitution that the government seeks dialogue with organized civil society and does include it in those areas where it is affected by its decisions. „