This project was researched in 2005 by a team of experts commissioned by CIPRA as part of the Future in the Alps Project. The contents are not being updated.
New forms of decision-making
Mobility, Policies and instruments
Grass-roots organisation of a referendum for awareness-building purposes and to test public opinion with regard to future developments in traffic management for the Puster Valley. The formal basis for the referendum was a plebiscite on direct democracy submitted to the regional parliament of South Tyrol. That caused the regional government to rethink its highway construction programme. The results are to be presented with the help of video interviews at meetings held in the 11 municipalities.
Supporting organizations of the people's questioning. Iinitiator, coordinator and adviser: the Initiative for more democracy
The organisations supporting the referendum: Bürgerforum Bruneck, Plattform Pro Pustertal, Heimatpflegeverband (regional heritage association), Umweltschutzgruppe Vintl (environmental protection group), trade unions (AGB / CGIL Pustertal, ASGB Pustertal and SGB/CISL Eisack-Rienz), Dachverband für Natur- und Umweltschutz (environmentalist federation), KVW Pustertal (catholic labour movement), Verein für Kultur und Heimatpflege (regional heritage group), Familienverband Bezirk Pustertal (family association), Südtiroler Jugendring (youth welfare), AVS Brixen (Alpine Club,
about 200 volunteer tellers, and the approx. 32,000 citizens with the right to vote in the eleven communities of the main Puster Valley.
Awareness-building and opinion-making with regard to the problem of traffic developments in the valley, also in view of the danger of the creation of a new transit traffic route;
Empowering the people living in the valley to take responsibility for future developments in traffic management there;
Polling local residents with regard to their wishes for future traffic developments in the Puster Valley;
Giving publicity to an integrated approach to solving the traffic problem, which will only be possible on the basis of a holistic strategy;
Giving people hands-on experience of direct democracy;
Testing a new political tool in a specific application (a referendum on a choice of possible solutions);
Using the results to persuade the regional government to rethink its highway construction programme.
- obtaining the necessary support from local organisations and collecting the necessary signatures to be able to hold a self-organised referendum.
- various events to inform the local people
- referendum activities
- promoting and disseminating the results
Summer 2004: the Initiative for More Democracy obtained the necessary support from local organisations to hold a self-organised referendum. Autumn 2004: the organising committee collected about 2900 signatures in the 11 communities of the Puster Valley (approx. 9% of voters) thus satisfying the legal requirement for holding a referendum. Winter 2004: various events held by the supporting organisations to inform the local people. February 2005: voting papers distributed to all 32,000 voters. 20 March: the referendum was held in 26 wards of the 11 communities of the Puster Valley, involving a total of 32,000 persons eligible to vote. Summer 2005: activities in support of the result of the referendum. Autumn 2005: video interviews with the actors in the referendum and politically involved persons. Spring 2006: citizens’ assemblies in the 11 communities to consider the importance and result of the referendum.
It can be assumed that the goal of awareness-building with regard to the traffic problem has been achieved. The result of the referendum shows that for 80% of those who are interested in the subject and actually voted, public transport is a clear priority in the framework of transport policy. For months during the run-up to the referendum, the traffic problem was the subject of intensive public debate. The opportunity to cast their vote gave the people a feeling of responsibility for the problem; they saw that they can have a potential influence on policy-making. The feeling of frustration and resignation has been largely overcome and people’s self-confidence strengthened. The regional government has had to apply the brakes to its highway construction program and enter into a dialogue with the people directly affected.
The project was awarded the CIPRA best practice award in the Future in the Alps competition in the category of New forms of decision-making.
The initial scepticism regarding the readiness of the citizens to participate and the fear of unwanted results results was overcome in the phase of the signatures collection.
The discrediting attitude of the proprietors of the political power, who feared delegitimization of their plans, was counteracted with the impersonal and impartial frame of the people inquiry, in which all positions stood to the selection.