Popular Petition “Austria First
The popular petition “Austria First” was initiated in 1992 by the FPÖ, which was led by Jörg Haider, and it was available for signing in 1993 (registration week: 25 January to 1 February 1993). It obtained 416,531 signatures and thus ranks 16th of the 50 popular petitions conducted up to 2020.
In essence, the popular petition “Austria First” supported the following demands:
- constitutional provision: “Austria is not a country of immigration”
- immigration freeze until the illegal alien issue is satisfactorily resolved, until the housing shortage is ended and the unemployment rate reduced to 5 per cent;
- 1993 Austria Firstcompulsory workplace foreign employee worker identification cards, which must confirm the existence of a work permit and of health insurance registration;
- increase the size of the police (immigration police, criminal investigation department) and improve its pay and equipment in order to catch illegal aliens and effectively fight crime, especially organized crime;
- immediate creation of a permanent border control force (customs, police) to replace army deployment;
- easing the situation in schools by limiting to a maximum of 30 percent the proportion of students in compulsory and vocational school classes whose mother tongue is not German; if the proportion of foreign-language children exceeds 30 percent, establishing regular classes for foreigners;
- easing the situation in schools by limiting participation in regular classes to those with adequate German-language skills (preparatory classes);
- no voting rights for foreigners in elections;
- no early granting of citizenship;
- rigorous measures against illegal commercial activities (s1993 Austria Firstuch as in foreigners’ associations and clubs), as well as 1993 Austria Firstagainst welfare benefit abuse;
- immediate deportation and prohibition of residence for foreign criminals, as well as
- establishment of an Eastern Europe Foundation to prevent migratory movements.
With this popular petition, the FPÖ was very early to address the problem of ever-growing migration to Austria. As early as 1993, the Freedom Party called for targeted measures for the integration of immigrants and it also addressed wage dumping by foreign labour and the importation of criminality.
The popular petition met with strong opposition from the FPÖ’s political opponents. They dubbed it the “Anti-foreigner popular petition”, and the so-called “sea of lights”, constituted one the largest-ever demonstrations organised by SOS Mitmensch. The popular petition also resulted in Heide Schmidt resigning from the FPÖ and to the founding of the Liberal Forum.
Here you can find the FPÖ’s information brochure on the popular petition “Austria First”.
The majority of the media considered the popular petition to have been a Haider failure, yet it did not put a brake on Jörg Haider’s rise. On the contrary, the FPÖ’s rise under Jörg Haider continued.
The slogan “Austria First” was revived at FPÖ election campaigns during the Heinz-Christian Strache era.
The themes addressed in this 1993 popular petition are currently more topical than ever.