Austria's parliament is to debate holding a referendum on Turkey's EU membership and the EU constitution. The far right Freedom Party has collected enough signatures for the debate to go ahead. The "Austria, stay free" petition was launched by the FPO (Freedom Party) on March 6 and closed on late 13 March. According to the interior ministry, the poll gathered 258,277 signatures, above the threshold of 100,000 supporters needed to push the parliamentary debate on its proposal.
Although the petition gives the right for a debate to go ahead, observers doubt the chances of the initiative, which has been backed by 4.28% of the country's voters. The FPO petition calls for decisions on the new EU constitution and Turkey's accession to the union to be made by popular referendums. A referendum on Austria's neutrality to be clearly spelled out in its constitution should also be held, according to the initiative.
The FPO leader Heinz-Christian Strache, a successor of its former head Jorg Haider, said the result of the petition was an "awesome success," according to AFP.
In the history of FPOs in Austria, this plan is in twenty first place regarding the number of signatories.
According to the latest Eurobarometer statistics, only 32 percent of Austrians consider the EU as a good thing, while like 80 percent of voters are against Turkey's EU membership, compared to an EU average of 39 percent.