A Country Report by Klaus Sambor from Runder Tisch Grundeinkommen

The Basic Income Round Table Austria is currently working on two major campaigns: the “Volksbegehren for UBI”, a national petition, and the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI), the EU-wide petition. We try to combine the assignments sampling for both campaigns. By collecting support and raising awareness on UBI, we hope to spark a debate in the Austrian political arena and make Basic Income a reality.

Campaign Strategy

In order to spread both campaigns to all regions, we organise regional coordinators meetings with campaign training, where we discuss social media and public relations. We will produce flyers (15.000 pieces), roll ups, beach-flags, info-tables for the different regions. We also plan a roadshow from May 2021 on to at least 30 municipalities. The signature collection will not only be online, but also on paper forms. In the political area, we will inform all our Austrian MEPs a second time and will ask them to support our ECI on UBI.

In addition, Austria supports the European Raffle and we are also very much involved in the “Working Group 60” on “Creativity and Planning of Social Media Campaigns” for ECI-UBI 2020/2022.

The Round Table Austria newsletter is distributed to ca. 5000 people. We also work together with Attac and their newsletter with promotions for the ECI is reaching out up to 27.000 subscribers.

Despite the public debate in radio interviews and events on TV, the number of signatures we achieved is low: Volksbegehren in Austria: 61.858, ECI on UBI in Austria: 1.843 (total in EU 108.400). However, because the time for the collection of signatures has been extended until 25.03.2022 it gives us more possibilities to reach the 1 million signatures.

At the moment, the biggest problem to reach people is the Covid-19 lockdown. We expect that our activities in 2021 will lead to much more signatures. We plan to be highly involved in the 14th International Basic Income Week (20-26 Sept. 2021). In discussion is also the idea to add to the 17th Chapters of the SDGs an 18th Chapter, which would be UBI. This would bring awareness to UBI and hopefully bring dynamic to the two signature campaigns.

Last year, we also had a series of lectures on different aspects of UBI and its financing in cooperation with Friedensakademie Linz, Katholische Privat-Universität Linz, Kepler Universität Linz, Volkshochschule Linz and Volkshochschulen in Wien. We also discussed UBI with the “Momentum network”.

State of play of BI debate and possible allies

Potential alliances can be made with degrowth movements, with the Initiative Zivilgesellschaft, and other Volksbegehren (e.g. Climate-Volksbegehren, Tierschutz Volksbegehren), “aufstehen“ (against the politic of Chancellor Sebastian Kurz).

In Austria, the political parties present in Parliament are not yet for UBI, contrarily to the conservative party ÖVP which is against. The Greens are more open to the idea, but also not fully in line with our considerations. In the social democratic SPÖ, the discussion has started in a few lower level groups, e.g. in Carinthia. As for the smaller parties that are not represented in the Federal Parliament, the KPÖ, the “Wandel” and “Kärntenandas” are in favour of UBI.

We hope that after achieving 100.000 signatures, we will discuss the introduction of UBI in the Austrian Parliament in a constructive way, as it is required in our UBI-Volksbegehren, e.g. the last sentence translated:

“The amount, financing and implementation shall be enshrined in law, in a process with significant involvement of civil society.”