Austrian Social Democrats backpedal on call for future EU referenda

Austrian Social Democrats backpedal on call for future EU referendaVienna  - A leader of the governing Social Democrats stepped back from his party's announcement that referenda should decide over new EU treaties, by saying that such a vote would need the consent of the coalition partner, the Kurier daily reported Thursday.

Social Democratic Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer had recently alienated his partner in government, the conservative People's Party, by declaring that contrary to previous policy, the people should decide over future EU treaties or over an amended Lisbon treaty that needs a new ratification.

Since such a referendum can only be carried out after it has been legitimized by parliament, "there can be no EU referendum without the Austrian People's Party," the Kurier daily quoted Social Democrat leader in parliament Josef Cap in its Friday edition.

There was no immediate reaction from the People's Party which has been talking about the possibility of breaking up the coalition over Gusenbauer's new populist EU policy.

The conservatives, led by Vice Chancellor Wilhelm Molterer, oppose popular votes on EU treaties and have demanded a full retraction of Gusenbauer's policy announcement. (dpa)

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