current   about   works   publications   cv   contact  
Occupy Wall Street? Attend the city council´s meeting first!    Linz, Austria 2012

Occupy Wall Street? Attend the city council´s meeting first!

"Democracy is sometimes a little bit difficult."

These words escaped the lips of Wolfgang Schuster, mayor of the city of
Stuttgart, when welcoming his international guests of honor at the opening
of the ‚Stuttgart Wine Village‘ in 2010. On this day the demolition of the
listed central station began and outside the venue police tried to keep the
crowds of citizens at bay, who heckled the mayor with their angry and
desperate protest choirs.

By enforcing the urban development project ‘Stuttgart 21’ - a typical backroom
deal of the early ´90s‚ ‘legitimized’ by the city council in a fast track
decision - Mr. Schuster faced confrontation with a more and more informed
and organized civil society that demands its right for transparency and

Not least because of the sobering experiences around ‘Stuttgart 21’ we are
interested in local decision-making processes. Visiting a meeting of the
municipal council was therefore one of the first things we did during our
stay in Linz.

"The meetings of the municipal council are public." Oö GemO, § 53

Although council meetings usually proceed in an unspectacular manner,
their implications are constitutive. The public space in which they are held,
is the location where the elected representatives make decisions in the
sense of the common good and negotiate the use of taxpayers‘ money.
Here not only the socio-political, but also the urbanistic appearance of the
city is significantly determined.

It is the last meeting before the summer break and the grandstand is poorly
occupied. Towards the end of the over 5-hour event, which is dominated by
the discussion of the 2011-accounts, we find ourselves to be the only observers.
A quite different situation during the street art festival ‘Pflasterspektakel’,
when due to bad weather some performances get shifted into the same
assembly hall: The grandstand is packed, there´s no way through. The citizens
applaud and at the end of the show they are throwing change into the
hat of the acrobats and jugglers!

"The foundation of the free state is the free municipality."
Provisional Municipality Act of March 17th, 1849

The citizens´ demand for political participation during the revolution of
1848 was formative for the political culture of Central Europe. In the long
run it lead to the legal establishment of the first parliaments.

In our era of the gradual dismantling of democracy and increasing lobbying
it is high time to become aware of these hard-won achievements. Participation,
also in the form of presence and listenership, is the basis of our
democratic societies. The demands for civic participation and codetermination
are getting louder and louder and show how political decision-making
requires a direct authorization by the sovereign, from the people themselves.

Mere observation produces a change in the system, taught to us by
Schrodinger´s cat. It wouldn´t be without consequences, if more people
took the time to physically attend the negotiations over the organization
of their immediate environment. For the city council´s meeting on October
18th in the old town hall, we hope for a full grandstand!

Sylvia Winkler / Stephan Koeperl, Linz 2012



"Entrance-tickets for the municipal council meeting on October 18th 2012 available here." apo