Berlin, Germany, regional Popular or citizens initiative and authorities counter-proposal [PCI+] - Volksbegehren

General Typology

Instrument
Popular or citizens initiative and authorities counter-proposal [PCI+]
Location
Berlin, Germany
Political level
regional
Local Name:
Volksbegehren
Normative Level:
constitutional
Legally Binding:
yes
Legally Defined:

Article 2 

Public authority shall be held by all German nationals domiciled in Berlin. They shall exercise their will according to this Constitution directly by electing Parliament and by referendum, and indirectly through Parliament.

Article 62

(1) Citizens' initiatives may be directed towards creating, amending or repealing laws as long as the legislative competence lies with State of Berlin. They may also be directed towards passing other resolutions on policy issues affecting Berlin and under the jurisdiction of the House of Representatives. Only one citizens' initiative on one specific subject shall be admissible within one legislative period.

(3) The draft bill or other resolution on which the citizens' initiative is based shall be submitted to the House of Representatives by the Government (“Senate”) together with a statement on its point of view as soon as proof of the necessary support for the agenda initiative has been furnished. At the request of the representatives of the initiative, the referendum must be conducted if the House of Representatives has not adopted the draft Bill or other resolution proposed by the initiative unchanged in its essential contents within four months.

(4) If a citizens' initiative has been successful, a referendum must be conducted within four months.

This deadline may be extended up to eight months if that would enable the referendum to be conducted at the same time as an election or other referenda. The House of Representatives may put its own version of a draft bill or other resolution to the vote at the same time. The referendum shall not be held if the House of Representatives adopts the draft bill or other resolution proposed by the petition unchanged in its essential contents.

(5) The President of the House of Representatives shall sign the bill adopted by referendum; the Governing Mayor shall promulgate it in the Berlin Gazette.

Article 63 

(1) A citizens' initiative on a draft Bill or other resolution pursuant to Art. 62 para 1 requires as proof of support the signatures of at least 20,000 people entitled to vote in elections for the House of Representatives. A referendum must be held if at least seven percent of the people entitled to vote in House of Representatives elections agree to the initiative within four months. A law or other resolution pursuant to Art. 62 para 1 shall be deemed to have been adopted by a referendum if a majority of those voting and at least one-fourth of those entitled to vote in House of Representative elections cast their vote in favour of the law or resolution.

(2) A citizens' initiative on a draft bill that would amend the Constitution requires as proof of support by the signatures of at least 50,000 people entitled to vote in elections for the House of Representatives. A referendum must be held if at least one-fifth of the people entitled to vote in House of Representatives elections agree to the initiative within four months. A law amending the Constitution shall be deemed to be adopted by a referendum if a majority of at least two-thirds and at least half of those entitled to vote in House of Representatives election cast their votes in favour of the law.

(4) Details concerning citizens' initiative and relating to referenda, including the publication of the proposal on which the referendum is based, shall be the subject of a law.

References: The Constitution of Berlin, 1995 (accessed Nov. 6, 2019)

§ 11 Subject 

(1) A citizens' initiative can be directed towards to legislate, to amend, or to repeal laws as far as the State of Berlin has the legislative competence. It can also be directed towards issues of the political decision making that relate to Berlin, in the context of the jurisdiction of the House of Representatives, to take any other decisions. It is allowed only once within a parliamentary term on one specific topic (Art. 62 (1) of the Constitution of Berlin).

§ 14 Request 

The request for initiation of a citizens' initiative is to submit in written form to the Senate Administration responsible for Home Affairs by the organizing institution. If the citizens' initiative aims at adopting, the modification or the repeal of a law, an elaborated bill, with reasons is to be attached.

§ 16 Trusted Representatives

(1) The organising institution of a citizens' initiative determines five persons of trust as representatives of the citizens' initiative. The representatives are entitled to submit and to accept mandatory declarations for the organizing institution on behalf of the undersigned under this act.

Declarations of the representatives shall only be binding if they are submitted by at least three representatives.

(2) In the application according to § 14 the name and residence address of the representatives must be listed.

§ 17 Examination of the application, notice to the House of Representatives

(..) (7) In the message to the House of Representatives, it is pointed out that the House can decide within a period of four months to implement the desired draft law or an other template with the content, without change in its essential structure. If the House of Representatives accepts the desired content in its essential structure it has to communicate its decision to the organizing institution and the Government.

§ 18 Request to conduct the citizens' initiative, notice and registration deadline

(1) If the House of Representatives does not accept the request for content in its essential structure within a period of four months after the release of the Government to the House of Representatives, the organizing institution may request in written form the conducting of the referendum within one further month at the Government Department responsible for internal affairs. The organizing institution can in advance ask to conduct the citizens' initiative if the House of Representatives before the end of the four months expressly rejects the request. Sentences 1 and 2 shall not apply as long as and to the extent if the Constitutional Court still did not decide on an appeal pursuant to section 17 (5) or a template according to § 17 (6). As far as the responsible Government Administration for Home Affairs partially presented the request for initiation of a citizens' initiative at the Constitutional Court for decision, the organizing institution can reset the desire for the other parts to the decision of the Constitutional Court.

(..) (3) The registration period is four months and will begin generally 15 days after publication in the State Gazette for Berlin.

Article 21 Official Public Display Agencies and Public Display Opening Hours 

(1) The State Electoral Officer uniformly determines days and times where and when registrations can be made at the official registration places. The District Electoral Officers determine the public registration places.

(2) The time of public registration as well as the number and places of official public registration are to be determined in a way that each voter has sufficient opportunity to participate in the citizens' initiative. The official public registration place must be open on weekdays from Monday to Friday, during two days at least until 18: 00 hours. If the opening hours of the offices for citizen usually are longer, then the registration offices shall open as long.

§ 26 Conclusion of the citizens' initiative 

(1) A citizens' initiative directed towards the adoption of a law, or to make any other decision, is successful if at least seven of one hundred of the electorate has approved it.

(2) A citizens' initiative directed towards amending the Constitution of Berlin and a citizens' initiative for the premature termination of the term of the House of Representatives is successful if at least one-fifth of the electorate supported it.

(3) As number of voters the number of voters on the last day of the registration period is valid.

Section 3 Referendum 

§ 29 Causing a referendum 

(1) If a citizens' initiative has been established, a referendum has to be conducted

1. about the the desired adoption of a law or about the version of another decision within four months from the publication of the total result,

2. about the premature termination of the legislature two months after publication of the total result. The period pursuant to sentence 1 may be extended after consultation with the representatives of the citizens' initiative by the Senate up to eight months if the referendum can be conducted together with elections or other referendums.

(2) The referendum about a bill or any other decision is omitted if the House of Representatives adopts unchanged the coveted bill or the coveted other draft in its essential structure. The House of Representatives has to indicate this expressly.

(3) The referendum on the early termination of the term is omitted if the House of representatives decides the premature termination of the term itself.

(4) If several citizens' initiatives concerning the same subject-matter were successful they shall be conducted in the same ballot if possible.

§ 30 Own draft bill or any other draft resolution of the House of Representatives

(1) The House of Representatives of Berlin may in case of referendum about a bill or draft decision, submit an own bill or other draft decision for the vote at the same time.

(2) This Bill or any other draft resolution must be decided at least sixty days before the day of the referendum.

§ 36 The referendum result 

(1) A bill or an any other draft resolution is adopted by referendum, if the majority of the participants, at least a quarter of the electorate, agrees.

(2) A draft law about the amendment of the Constitution of Berlin is adopted by referendum if a majority of at least two-thirds of the participants and at the same time at least half of the electorate agrees.

(3) If at the same time bills or several other draft decisions relating to the same subject matter, are at the same time for the vote and the conditions according to paragraph 1 or paragraph 2 exist, the bill or the other draft resolution is adopted, which receives the most Yes-votes. Is the number of Yes-votes for several draft laws or other draft decisions the same, the one is adopted, which has the largest number of YES-votes after deduction of the No-votes. In case the formed differences are equal on the relevant draft laws or other draft decisions within two months there will be a second referendum; § 32 to § 35 will apply.

(4) A referendum on the early termination of the term of the House of representatives is adopted, if at least half of the electorate agrees and receives the majority of the votes for the premature termination.

(5) If the referendum is conducted along with elections or other referendums, it is to ensure that voters can cast their vote regardless of the votes for the elections or other referendums. The participation in the referendum will be determined separately based on the votes cast.

References: Gesetz über Volksinitiative, Volksbegehren und Volksentscheid, 1997 (accessed No. 6, 2019)

Subject Matter:

To call a referendum on creating, amending or repealing laws, passing other resolutions on policy issues affecting Berlin, constitutional amendments.

Actors

Author:
Citizens
Initiator:
Citizens
Decision maker:
Electorate
Lead of counter proposal:
Parliament

Requirements

Number Of Signatures:
Initial:Law:20000/const. amendment: 50000; Conclusion:Law: 7%/const. amendment: 20%
Available Time:
Initial: 6 months; Conclusion: 4 months
Turnout Quorum:
None
Approval Quorum:
Law: majority of the votes cast, at least a quarter of the electorate Constitutional amendment: 2/3rd of the votes cast and at the same time at least half of the electorate
Geographical Quorum:
None
Excluded Issues:

It is allowed only once within a parliamentary term on one specific topic (Art. 62 (1) of the Constitution of Berlin). Citizens' initiatives relating to the State Budget Act, official salaries and pensions, charges, fees levied by municipal corporations, as well as personnel-related decision;  A citizens' initiative which contradicts the Federal Basic Law, other federal law or the Constitution of Berlin, is not permitted.

Other Formal Requirements:

Ti initial phase corresponds in general with the instrument of an agenda initiative

Procedural Elements

Collection Mode:
free
Specify Collection Mode:

§ 15 Collection of signatures
(1) At the written request of the Owner to the Senate Administration responsible for Home Affairs, the competent Senate Administration shall, before the collection of signatures begins, immediately prepare the estimated costs which would result from the realisation of the petition for a referendum (official cost estimate). In order to prove support, an application to initiate a petition for a referendum shall require the signature of at least 20 000 persons entitled to vote at the time of signing the petition to the Berlin House of Representatives, or, in the case of a petition to amend the Constitution of Berlin or to prematurely terminate the term of office of the Berlin House of Representatives, the signature of at least 50 000 persons entitled to vote at the time of signing the petition to the Berlin House of Representatives. The signature must have been executed within the last six months before receipt of the application by the Senate Administration responsible for the Interior. Each signature must be placed on a signature list or a a separate signature sheet preceded by the text of the original or its essential content in summary form, including the official cost estimate. The wearer may put its own cost estimate before the official cost estimate.
(2) In addition to the handwritten signature, the following data of the signatory person must be indicated in handwriting:
1. surname,
2. first name,
3. date of birth,
4. address of the sole residence or main residence
5. day of signature.
(3) If the handwritten indication of the date of birth is missing or if it is incomplete, erroneous or illegible, the signature shall be deemed invalid. The signature shall also be deemed invalid if the person cannot be identified beyond doubt on the basis of the entries or if it cannot be established beyond doubt whether the signature was executed on time or if the person signing is entitled to participate on the day on which the signature was executed. If the entries contain additions or reservations, if they are not handwritten, if they are not made in due time, or if they were sent by fax or electronically, the signature shall also be deemed invalid.
(4) The responsible body shall use the models prescribed in the voting regulations for the signature lists and forms and shall procure them at its own expense.
(5) A person who is willing to support the person and cannot write declares his or her support to be recorded in the district office.
(6) As proof of voting rights, persons who are not entered in a register of residents of the Federal Republic of Germany or who have not been registered in Berlin for three months prior to the date of signing must sign in the District Office and affirm by affirmation in lieu of an oath that they have spent most of the last three months in Berlin..

§ 16 Trusted Representatives

(1) The organising institution of a citizens' initiative determines five persons of trust as representatives of the citizens' initiative. The representatives are entitled to submit and to accept mandatory declarations for the organizing institution on behalf of the undersigned under this act.

Declarations of the representatives shall only be binding if they are submitted by at least three representatives.

(2) In the application according to § 14 the name and residence address of the representatives must be listed.

§ 17 Examination of the application, notice to the House of Representatives

(..) (7) In the message to the House of Representatives, it is pointed out that the House can decide within a period of four months to implement the desired draft law or an other template with the content, without change in its essential structure. If the House of Representatives accepts the desired content in its essential structure it has to communicate its decision to the organizing institution and the Government.

References: Gesetz über Volksinitiative, Volksbegehren und Volksentscheid, 1997 (accessed No. 6, 2019)

Wording Of Ballot Question:
Interaction With Authorities:
Supervision And Support:

Section 4 Common rules

§ 40 a Right of advice 

The organizing institution of an agenda initiative or a citizens' initiative can consult the responsible Government Interior Administration with regard to the formal and substantive conditions of admissibility of the application and the legal provisions for the implementation of the project.

Transparency And Finance:

§ 40b Notification of individual donations
(1) Donations of money or goods exceeding a total value of 5,000 euros shall be reported immediately to the Senate Administration responsible for Home Affairs, stating the name and address of the donor and the total amount of the donations. For donations in kind, the usual market price shall apply.
(2) The persons in a position of trust affirm in lieu of an oath with the application for the treatment of a popular initiative pursuant to § 4, the application for the initiation of a petition for a referendum pursuant to § 14, the request for the execution of a petition for a referendum pursuant to § 18 and 15 days before the date of the vote of a referendum, that the duty of disclosure has been fully and correctly complied with.
(3) The monetary donations shall be administered separately by the wearer in an account stating the donor and the amount donated. Donations in kind shall be recorded in a record showing the donor, the object of the donation and the market value. The Senate Administration responsible for Internal Affairs may, if there are actual indications of an incomplete notification pursuant to paragraph 1, order the bearer to submit documents on donations and authorise its account-holding financial institution to provide the Senate Administration responsible for Internal Affairs with information on the individual donations as well as the names and addresses of the donors. The order may be enforced by way of administrative execution.
(4) The Senate Administration responsible for Home Affairs shall publish the information referred to in subsection 1 continuously in the Official Gazette for Berlin and forward it to the Head of the State Voting, who shall also publish the information on the Internet.

§ 40 c. Donations ban

A organizing institution of an agenda initiative or a citizens' initiative may take no money or in-kind donations of

1. groups and parliamentary groups in the Parliaments, municipal representations and District Parliaments,

2. companies that are totally or partially publicly owned or managed publicly or operated and the direct participation of the public sector does not exceed 25%.

If a political party is the organizing institution of an agenda initiative or a citizens' initiative, § 25 paragraph 2 of the law on political parties, as amended by the notice of January 31, 1994 shall apply for the organizing institution (BGBl. I p. 149), most recently amended by article 5a of the Act of September 24, 2009 (BGBl. I S. 3145) accordingly.

Practice

Archive:
Remarks:

The English language version here is provided as a courtesy. The German language text is the official version.