Framework Conditions for Civil Society in Austria: A Civil Society Index-Rapid Assessment Report

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AustriaCSIRAA vibrant civil society contributes significantly to a living democracy, social cohesion and social innovation. Civil society organizations (CSOs) provide important services. Especially in times of crisis, they can help to improve living conditions for many people.

Appropriate framework conditions are a prerequisite if the potentials of civil society are to be developed and exploited in an effective way. While this has been known to scholars and experts for some time, politicians are now becoming increasingly aware of the opportunities which may arise from creating favourable conditions for civil society.

The Civil Society Index – Rapid Assessment (CSI–RA), therefore, examines the general climate and framework conditions for civil society initiatives and organizations in Austria. Using the internationally tested CSI-RA tool, supporting as well as limiting factors were identified and assessed from the point of view of experts and social stakeholders. The ultimate aim of this report is to provide a basis for the creation of a beneficial environment for Austrian civil society.

The topics covered in the report are:

  • Democracy: The democratic quality is depicted by means of the Democracy Barometer which compares 30 established democracies based on the three main aspects of freedom, equality and control, with every aspect divided up into three further sub-aspects.
  • Civil and Human rights: It include three subtopics: freedom of association, freedom of assembly and CSOs’ access to financial resources.
  • Tax law: The main focus here is on the application of existing legal regulations in the context of beneficiary CSOs.
  • Employment and volunteering: One of the major characteristics of CSOs is the variety of ways in which people may be active in a CSO. Apart from employed workers, most people involved in a CSO are volunteers.
  • Provision of services focuses on the relationship between the authorities and CSOs regarding the provision of services.
  • The final chapter focuses on the public perception of civic engagement.