“Anyway, it’s a warning sign,” says political scientist Fritz Placer. But what is the difference between the two forms of democracy? “Electoral democracy is a system that meets minimum standards of democracy – free and fair elections, the results of which are not questioned and legitimize the formation of the government,” explains political expert Anton Bilinka. “Liberal democracy is more: this includes independent control guaranteed by the judiciary, maximum opportunities for the opposition to control the government, and the breadth of pluralism in and within the media,” Pelinka said.
Uncontrolled and uncontrolled growth in party finances
However, Pelinka admits that it is not possible to draw precise boundaries between these two forms of democracy. Placer also has difficulties defining the term. “But Austria’s deterioration is not surprising in light of domestic political reporting over the past 1.5 years with Chancellor’s resignations and consolidated committees,” says Placer.
Bilinka considers the downgrade to be justified, due to “the image of a political figure that has become apparent since Ibiza: a barely controlled growth in party finances, and thus an unfair distortion of democratic competition, the justifiable impression that franchises can be bought – example: Siegfried Wolf – and the influence Politician on the judiciary – example: the suspicion of the head of the department Belnasek and the head of the Vienna Public Prosecutor’s Office, ”explains Pelinka to the Kurier newspaper.
The research team that produced the report attributes Austria’s downgrade to a significant drop in the “Expected Legislation and Enforcement Transparency Index”.
Blaser sees a problem that transparency laws such as the Freedom of Information Act are long overdue. “This is also reflected in the indicator-based monitoring of the Democracy Report.” There is also a general impression of corruption and a lack of transparency among elites, politics, and institutions among the population and the public.
Democratic Reform Package
“It is time to put in place a package of democratic reforms,” says Fritz Placer. This should include stronger provisions on non-compliance, stricter checks on party finances, more transparency and official declassification.
The lower democratic political level to which Austria has now retreated is not fixed. Political expert Anton Pelinka concluded, “The paradox is that the beginning of a public debate on these conditions can in fact allow for a better classification of Austria.”
By the way, the situation has also deteriorated globally: in 2012 there were 42 liberal democracies. In 2021 there will be only 34, the lowest number since 1995. Most of the world’s 3.4 billion people live in electoral authoritarian regimes.
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