Popular Petition on Animal Protection
Austria’s first popular petition on animal protection, the “Popular petition for the creation of a federal animal protection law”, was initiated by the FPÖ and the Greens. The organiser was Gerda Maties, of the Internationaler Bund der Tierversuchsgegner (International League of Opponents of Animal Experimentation). The popular petition was supported by 459,096 Austrians (which ranked it 14th of the 50 popular petitions conducted up to 2020); the registration week was 18 March to 25 March 1996.
The popular petition made the following central demands. Anchoring the protection of animals and of the environment as a legal good protected at constitutional level. Establishment of an independent and publicly-funded animal ombudsman’s office to represent the welfare interests of animals and to monitor enforcement in matters related to animal protection. The animal protection ombudsman's office should be granted party status in proceedings under the Federal Animal Protection Act. The recognition of animal protection as a public issue, as well as the public authorities’ promotion of the value of, and funding for, animal protection work. In 1996, animal protection was regulated by means of nine different provincial laws. The Freedom Party and Greens supported the petition in the National Council. Notwithstanding the approximately 460,000 statements of support, and even though the petition was discussed in the National Council, a unified animal protection law did not come about at that time.
It was only in 2004 that the central demands of the 1996 plebiscite were implemented.