Bremen, Germany, regional Popular or citizens initiative [PCI] - Volksbegehren

General Typology

Popular or citizens initiative [PCI]
Bremen, Germany
Political level
Local Name:
Normative Level:
Legally Binding:
Legally Defined:

Article 66

The State authority emanates from the people. It is exercised in accordance with this Constitution and the laws adopted on the basis of the Constitution:

(a) directly by the totality of the electorate of Bremen's territory, which expresses their will by voting in a referendum (referendum) and elected representatives of the people (Parliament);

(b) indirectly by the Parliament (Bürgerschaft) and the State Government (Senate).

Article 67

Only the people (referendum) and parliament are entitled to the legislature. The Executive power is in the hands of the Government and the subordinate law enforcement agencies. The judicial power is exercised by independent judges.

2. Section Referendum, the Parliament and the State Government 

(I). The referendum 

Article 69 

Entitled to vote in the referendum is who is entitled to vote for the Parliament. Voting is general, equal, direct, free and secret; it can be only affirmative or negative. The voting day must be a Sunday or general public holiday.

Article 70 

(1) The referendum will be conducted
(d) if one twentieth of the voters request the adoption of a resolution about a bill. If the constitution is to be amended, one tenth of the voters must support the request. The bill shall be submitted by the Senate to the citizens, stating its position. The referendum shall not take place if the requested bill has been accepted unchanged by the Parliament or if the persons of trust have not filed a petition to hold a referendum. If the requested bill is adopted in an amended manner which does not, however, contradict the request of the petition for a referendum, the Parliament shall, at the request of the trusted persons, declare that the petition for a referendum has been settled. If the law is rejected by referendum, a new petition for a referendum on the submission of the same bill shall will only be admissible after the Parliament has been newly elected.

(3) A referendum is inadmissible under (1) on the current budget, remuneration or salaries of public employees or equivalent persons and about taxes, levies, contributions and fees and details of such bills. Referendums with effect for future budget plans are permitted insofar as they do not significantly alter the structure of a future budget, comply with the constitutional rules for the budget law, which also Parliament has to follow for the drafting of the budget and no budgetary positions are used for counter funding, which are by law, contractual or otherwise legally bound.

Article 71

(1) If by way of a referendum a law shall be adopted, amended or repealed, the decision to obtain a referendum or the citizens' initiative has to contain a drafted bill on grounds at the same time.

(2) Referenda with have a financial impact for future budgets shall contain a financing proposal. This counter financing plan must be in accordance with the general rules for the domestic budget law and be attached to the bill.

Article 72 

(1) A bill or other template referred to in article 70 is accepted by referendum, if the majority of those who cast their votes, but at least one-fifth of the electorate, agrees.

(2) In the case of constitutional amendments on the basis of a citizens' initiative, more two-fifths of the electorate for the referendum must vote in favor.

Article 73 

(1) The Government has to execute the laws adopted by referendum within two weeks after the finding of the result of the vote and to announce in the Bremen State Gazette.

(2) Within two years after entry into force a law approved by referendum can be only be amended or repealed during the current election period by

1. a referendum according article 70 paragraph 1 point (b) or (d),

2. Parliament with a majority needed in case of constitutional amendments.

Article 74 

A law regulates the procedures for the referendum.

Article 123 

(1) Bills are introduced by an citizens' initiative, by agenda initiative, the Government or by the middle of Parliament.

(2) Laws adopted by the Parliament or by referendum will be officially copied and announced by the Government.

(3) The Government has to issue the laws constitutionally concluded within one month and to publish them in the Bremen State Gazette.

(4) The Bremen State Gazette can be maintained in accordance with the law also in electronic form.

References: Landesverfassung der Freien Hansestadt Bremen, 1947 (accessed Dec. 3, 2019)

§ 4 Invalid votes 

(1) Votes are invalid if the ballot

1. is not officially established,

2. question posed is marked at the same time with a 'Yes' and a 'No',

3. contains no marking of the question neither with "Yes" or "No",

4. the will of the voter cannot be recognized without doubt.

5.includes additions or a reservation.

(2) Multiple ballots for the same question in a ballot envelope are considered as one ballot when voting on them is the same or only one of them is marked; otherwise, they are considered as invalid.

(3) Furthermore, § 31 (3) to (5) of the Bremen Electoral Act shall apply mutatis mutandis.

§ 6 Referendum result 

(1) A bill or other template referred to in article 70 of the State Constitution is adopted through referendum, if the majority of the votes cast votes "Yes" for the bill or the other template. This only applies if at least one-fifth of the electorate agreed. Two-fifths of the electorate must agree to a constitutional law, which is submitted to the referendum due to a citizens' initiative. More than half of the electorate must agree in case of an early termination of the term of Parliament.

(2) If only one bill of several drafts for the vote achieves the required approval, so this bill is adopted. If two or more bills achieve the required approval, so this bill is accepted which achieves the majority of the valid votes cast in the tiebreaker question. In the case off a tie, in the tiebreaker question this bill is adopted, which receives the majority of valid votes. If the number of valid votes is the same for multiple bills, so one is adopted, which unites the biggest number of Yes-votes after subtracting the No-votes.

Article 10 Application for authorisation 

(1) The request for approval of a citizens' initiative shall be submitted to the State Electoral Officer in written form.

(2) The request must

1. in the case of § 8 para 1 include a drafted bill, explaining the reasons, must comply with the provisions of article 71 (2) of the State Constitution, in case of a budget effective citizens' initiative and which has to comply with the provisions of article 125 (1) of the Constitution of the State if the State Constitution shall be amended,

2. signed personally and manually by at least five thousand voters; In addition to the signature, providing family name, first name, date of birth and address (main residence). Each support list must be made according to the pattern according of appendix 1 and the eligibility of the signatories confirmed free of charge by the municipal authorities on the support list.

3. one representative and a deputy, who are entitled to vote, must be named. Unless expressly otherwise determined, each one of them shall be entitled to issue and to receive binding declarations about the application.

(3) Signatures for an agenda initiative on the same subject are, provided they meet the requirements of (2), at the request of the representatives accepted for the citizens' initiative.

(4) The eligibility of the signatories must have been valid on the day of examination of the support list by the municipal authorities.

(5) Not valid are registrations that do not comply with the requirements of (2) no. 2; they are not taken into account when confirming the eligibility of the signers. If a registration with regard to the indication of the surname, first name, date of birth or address is not without any doubt, it does not lead by way of derogation from sentence 1 to their invalidity, if the municipal authorities can clearly associate the registration with a person on the basis of the civil register. The municipal authority can cancel the examination of support lists in case it has determined that the required number of supporting signatures is achieved.

(6) The State Electoral Officer will check to see whether the required number of verified signatures of support is attached to the application for authorisation, and forwards it with the results of the examination to the Government.

§ 13 Notice, start of the registration period 

If the authorisation request is approved, the State Electoral Manager has publicly to announce the approval of the citizens' initiative in the State Gazette of the free Hanseatic City of Bremen. The notice must contain

1. the full text of the approved citizens' initiative,

2. the names and addresses of the representatives,

3. the deadline for the submission of signature sheets,

4. the number of the necessary registrations for the conclusion of the citizens' initiative.

§ 18 Submission and evaluation of the signature bow 

(1) The signature sheets must be submitted to municipal authorities in which the registered persons have their main residence no later than three months after the notice of approval of the citizens' initiative.

(2) The signature sheets are consecutively to number and to be submitted with a compilation of the serial numbers of the bows and for each bow the total number of the signatures is counted. The number of signatures is to count up.

(3) After the filing of the signature sheets with the corresponding collection, signatures may no longer be filed in later.

(4) The municipality authorities check whether the required number of valid registrations for the conclusion of the citizens' initiative has been achieved. The test shall be performed expeditiously; It can be performed in the form of samples. The check can be aborted if due to the sample it can be expected that the required number is achieved. In these cases, it is believed that the citizens' initiative is adequately supported. The municipal authorities immediately forward the result of its examination with the signature bows to the State Electoral Officer.

References: Gesetz über das Verfahren beim Volksentscheid, 1996 (accessed Dec. 3, 2019)

Subject Matter:

To call a referendum to adopt, amend or repeal a law


Decision maker:


Number Of Signatures:
Application: 5000; Conclusion: 1/20 of the electorate; Constitution: 1/10 of the electorate
Available Time:
3 months
Turnout Quorum:
Approval Quorum:
Laws: Majority of those who cast their votes, but at least one-fifth of the electorate; Constitutional amendments: Majority but at least 2/5th of the electorate
Geographical Quorum:
Excluded Issues:

Budget, remuneration or salaries of public employees or equivalent persons and about taxes, levies, contributions and fees and details of such bills. Future budgets only as it does not significantly alter the structure of a future budget

Other Formal Requirements:

Procedural Elements

Collection Mode:
Specify Collection Mode:

Article 14 Signature sheet 

(1) The support of the approved citizens' initiative is carried out by registration in the signature sheet. The procurement of the signature sheets is the responsibility of those who apply for the citizens' initiative.

(2) Each signature sheet must be made according to the model of annex 2 and containing the full text of the approved citizens' initiative, as well as names and addresses of the representative and the deputy representative. If several sheets are combined to a book, is it sufficient if the referred information in sentence 1 is listed on time at the beginning. The signatures are continuously numbered within a sheet or booklet.

(3) Only persons who have their main residence in the same municipality may register on the signature sheet.

§ 16 Registration in the signature sheet 

(1) Eligible persons, who want to support the approved citizens' initiative register in the signature sheet with their handwritten signature. In addition to the signature, family name, first name, date of birth and address (main residence) are to be provided. Each eligible person can register only once.

(2) Collecting signatures in the entrance areas of public libraries, community colleges and other institutions of adult education, town-houses, as well as the public museums is permitted, provided that the head of the institution has given consent. The consent can be denied or the authorization revoked if normal operations will be affected by the collection.

(3) A registration may not be withdrawn.

References: Gesetz über das Verfahren beim Volksentscheid, 1996 (accessed Dec. 3, 2019)

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

§ 8a Consulting 

The initiators of a citizens' initiative can ask for advice by the Parliament. The advice, where the Government will be consulted, shall include constitutional, budgetary and procedural requirements. Fees and expenses will not be charged.

References: Gesetz über das Verfahren beim Volksentscheid, 1996 (accessed Dec. 3, 2019)

Transparency And Finance:



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