PETICIPATE – Petitions and Parliamentary Citizens‘ Initiatives: Linking Citizens and Parliament?

PETICIPATE – Petitionen und Parlamentarische Bürgerinitiativen: Verbindung von BürgerInnen und Parlament?

Team: Sieglinde Rosenberger, Jeremias Stadlmair, Elio Dalpra, Benedikt Seisl


Cooperation partner: Legal, Legislative and Research Services of Austrian Parliament

Project duration: March 2018 – February 2021

Funding institution: Austrian National Bank, Jubiläumsfonds (Project number: 17729)

Project description (in German): PETICIPATE


About the project

Against the backdrop of decreasing support for political institutions and actors of representative democracy, instruments of participatory and direct democracy aim to reconnect citizens and political actors. Petitions and Parliamentary Citizens‘ Initiatives (PCIs) enable citizens to submit initiatives to the Austrian Parliament, either by supplying 500 signatures of support (Parliamentary Citizens’ Initiative) or via a Member of Parliament (Petition). Therefore, PCIs broaden the participatory repertoire in the political system of Austria. Apart from institutionalized instruments, online petitions are enjoying increasing popularity.

In this project, we scrutinise the PCIs as well as online petitions. We are interested in their different roles regarding participation, mobilization, and issue-specific policy changes. Overall, we want to explore the potential of PCIs for strengthening the linkage between citizens and representative politics on one hand and their function as instrument of political protest from below on the other hand.

Addressing these research objectives, we collect information on the proponents, content, and parliamentary processing of all PCIs from 1988 to 2017. Moreover, we collect information on actors, content and procedures of online petitions. In a second step, we conduct a process tracing of recent PCIs, including interviews with proponents of PCIs and Members of Parliament and participant observation as well as contact persons of online platforms, which provide online petitions.

The societal and scientific contribution of the project is threefold: First, it enables a better understanding of the different forms of petitions, their primary and secondary effects on mobilization and parliamentary process. We aim at offering a conceptual connection between direct and representative forms of democracy. Second, proponents of PCIs may benefit from information on effects and factors contributing to the success of PCIs collected in this project. Third, we develop propositions for reforming PCIs in Austria.

Further information on Petitions and Parliamentary Citizens’ Initiatives:


Activities & Events

  • Paper presentation at ECPR General Conference 2018: "Who Peticipates? Proponents of Parliamentary Citizens‘ Initiatives and Petitions in Austrian Parliament", Jeremias Stadlmair, Sieglinde Rosenberger & Benedikt Seisl, at University of Hamburg, 23 August 2018.


Project-related literature and publications

Blümel, Barbara (2005). ... sich Gehör verschaffen. Petitionen und Bürgerinitiativen, in: Forum Parlament, Vol. 3(2), 60–62

Hough, Richard (2012). Do Legislative Petitions Systems Enhance the Relationship between Parliament and Citizen?, in: The Journal of Legislative Studies, Vol. 18(3–4), 479–495

Korinek, Karl (1977). Das Petitionsrecht im demokratischen Rechtsstaat, in: Recht und Staat in Geschichte und Gegenwart, Vol. 474/475, 1–41

Riehm, Ulrich/Böhle, Knud/Lindner, Ralf (2013). Elektronische Petitionssysteme. Analysen zur Modernisierung des parlamentarischen Petitionswesens in Deutschland und Europa, Berlin: Edition Sigma

Rosenberger, Sieglinde/Seeber, Gilg (2007). Zivilgesellschaft durch direkte Demokratie?, in: Landeszentrale für politische Bildung Baden Württemberg, Vol. 57(4), 233–239

Rosenberger, Sieglinde/Stadlmair, Jeremias (2015). Direkte Demokratie - Regierungstechnik oder Instrument der BürgerInnen?, in: Öhlinger, Theo/Poier, Klaus (eds.): Direkte Demokratie und Parlamentarismus. Wie kommen wir zu den besten Entscheidungen?, Wien: Böhlau, 227–251

Rosenberger, Sieglinde/Stadlmair, Jeremias (2014). Partizipation in Österreich, in: Bertelsmann Stiftung/Staatsministerium Baden-Württemberg (eds.): Partizipation im Wandel. Unsere Demokratie zwischen Wählen, Mitmachen und Entscheiden, Gütersloh: Verlag Bertelsmann Stiftung, 454–488

Rosenberger, Sieglinde/Stadlmair, Jeremias (2016). Petitionen und Parlamentarische Bürgerinitiativen - Zivilgesellschaft im Parlament?, in: TransForm. Journal für zivilgesellschaftliche Innovation, Vol. 1(1), 68–89