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  • 15-22 April 2013: Referendum against church privileges does not achieve expected success

Atheist, agnostic and freethinker movements initiated a referendum that took place from 15-22 April 2013. It related to abolishing church privileges, strictly separating church and state, as well as ending “gigantic” church subsidies. The various movements involved in this referendum initiative obtained the support required to organise it from the Federal Ministry for the Interior (Bundesministerium für Inneres).

As it happened, the referendum only generated 56,660 votes or 0.89% of the electorate, while 100,000 would have been needed to create a federal constitutional law.

Archbishop of Vienna, Christophe Schönborn, was pleased with these results, which prove in his view that the majority of Austrians appreciate the role of the church within society. Nevertheless, he considers it necessary to investigate what motivated the initiators of this petition. Recent paedophilia scandals in the Catholic Church, as well as the stances adopted by certain reformist priests, have distanced many of the faithful.

D 3 May 2013    ACatherine Zimmerlin

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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