Hamburg, 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
Hamburg, Germany
Political level
regional
Local Name:
Volksbegehren
Normative Level:
constitutional
Legally Binding:
yes
Legally Defined:

II. The Parliament 

Article 6

(..)

(4) For draft bills introduced by a citizens' initiative article 50 (3) sentence 11 applies accordingly; Article 50 (3) sentence 8 does not apply.

IV. The legislation 

Article 48 

(1) Bills are introduced by the Government, from the middle of Parliament, or through a citizens' initiative.

(2) Laws are decided by parliament or by referendum.

Article 50

(2) Parliament deals with the concerns of the agenda initiative. It or one-fifth of its members can request the Court of Auditors about a report concerning the financial impact of the agenda initiative. The initiators will have the opportunity to explain the initiative in a parliamentary Committee. If Parliament within a period of four months after submission of the signatures did not pass the law proposed by the agenda initiative or made a decision which fully corresponds to the other template, the initiators of the agenda initiative can request for a citizens' initiative. For this purpose they can submit the draft law or other template, in a revised form. The Government conducts the citizens' initiative. The initiators of the citizens' initiative are entitled to collect signatures on own lists. The citizens' initiative is successful, if it is supported by at least one-twentieth of the eligible voters.

(3) Parliament deals with the issues of the citizens' initiative. The initiators will have opportunity to discuss the issue in a Committee. If within a period of four months after submission of the signatures Parliament has not adopted the law introduced by the citizens' initiative or a decision, which fully corresponds to the other template, the initiators of the citizens' initiative can apply for conducting a referendum. They can submit the draft law or other template in revised form. The Government presents the bill or the other template to the people to decide. The Parliament can add an own bill or own other template. The referendum will take place on the day of the election to Parliament or to the German Bundestag. At the request of the citizen's initiative, the referendum on ordinary laws and other templates can take place also on another day. The same applies if the Parliament requests it in the case of a referendum according (4) or (4 a). If the referendum takes place on the election day to Parliament or to the German Bundestag, a bill or other template is adopted if the majority agrees and at least the number of votes on the bill or the other template corresponds to the majority of the Hamburg vote represented in the Parliament at the same time. Constitutional amendments require a majority of two-thirds of those voting and at least two-thirds of the Hamburg vote represented in the Parliament at the same time. If voters according the Electoral Code have more than one vote then the calculation of the Hamburg vote represented in the Parliament according to the sentences 10 and 11, will be so that the actual number of votes is to be converted in a way that only one vote is equivalent to every voter.

If the referendum does not take place on the day of the election to Parliament or to the German Bundestag, it is accepted if the majority of votes and at least one-fifth of eligible voters agree.

(5) During a period of three months before a general election in Hamburg no citizens' initiatives and referenda are conducted.

(6) The Hamburg Constitutional Court decides at the request of the Government, Parliament, one-fifth of the deputies, or of the initiators of the citizens' initiative on the conduct of a citizens' initiative, referendum and

Parliament plebiscite. citizens' initiative and referendum rest during the procedure.

(7) The law determines the further. It can also determine periods where the periods referred to in (2) sentence 4, (3) sentence 3 and (4b) sentence 6 will not run due to recess of Parliament or according a decision of the Parliament on a proposal of the initiators of the citizens' initiative.

Article 65

(3) The Constitutional Court shall decide

(..)

5. at the request of the Government, of Parliament, one-fifth of the members of Parliament, or at the request of the initiators of citizens' initiative regarding the implementation of a citizens' initiative and a referendum (Art. 50 (6));

References: Verfassung der Freien und Hansestadt Hamburg, 1952, (accessed Dec. 3, 2019)

§ 1 Scope of application

The people can apply for the promulgation, the amendment or the repeal of a law or a referral with certain issue of political decision-making process (other template). Federal Council initiatives, budgets, taxes, tariffs of public enterprises as well as service and pensions can be not subject to a referendum.

§ 6 Implementation of the citizens' initiative

(1) If the law proposed by agenda initiative has not been passed by Parliament within a period of four months after submission of the signature lists or a completely congruent decision has not been made about the other template, the initiators can request to conduct a citizens' initiative. The request is to submit in writing to the Government within a month. With the application or within two months after the submission of the application the draft law or other template can be submitted in a revised form. In the case of a revision, the basic character, admissibility and objectives of the concern may not be changed. The Government shall notify Parliament immediately about the request and a revision.

(2) The Government conducts the citizens' initiative. The registration period starts four

Months after the application and lasts three weeks. The deadline for the registration of the voting by letter is six weeks and ends with the registration deadline.

If a day during the voting by letter period in a period of three months before or one month after the date of an election to the Parliament, the German Bundestag or European Parliament, the implementation for this is inhibited.

(3) The time limit set in (1) sentence 1 does not run in the period from June 15 to August 15. Furthermore it will not run for up to three months, if the Parliament so decides on a proposal from the initiators; under the same conditions, the period may be extended once. The proposal according sentence 2 must be directed in writing to the President of Parliament.

§ 7 Public Notice

The State Electoral Board publicly publishes no later than one month before the start the registration period for the citizens' initiative. The notice contains

1. the text of the draft of law with explanatory statement or the other template,

2. first and family names and the address of accessability of the representatives,

3. beginning and end of the period for the registration in the registration lists,

4. the registration places and the registration times and all other possibilities for registration in accordance with § 9, paragraph 1.

§ 17 Referral of Parliament with the concern of the citizens' initiative

(1) The Parliament deals in public session with the concern of the citizens' initiative. The initiators will have opportunity to discuss the issue in a Committee in public session.

(2) If Parliament adopts the law proposed by the citizens' initiative or a decision which completely matches the other template, it delivers the respective decision to a representative and sends a notice to the Government.

§ 18 Implementation of the referendum

(1) If Parliament within a period of four months after the end of the registration period has not passed the law introduced by the citizens' initiative or adopted the other template, the initiators can request the implementation of the referendum. The request is to submit in writing to the Government within a month. The draft bill or the other template in revised form may be submitted with the application. The Government shall notify immediately Parliament about the request and the revision; § 6 paragraph 1 sentence 4 shall apply mutatis mutandis.

(2) The Government performs the referendum at the following election to the Parliament or to the German Parliament, but not before a period of four months after submission.

(3) With the exception of a referendum on a draft law about the electoral code

the application pursuant to paragraph 1 may be combined withe a request, the referendum on an ordinary law or a different template may be conducted on another day as according to paragraph 2. In this case, the referendum will take place four to seven months after the submission on a Sunday or public holiday, to be determined in the application. Three months before and one month after the election to the Parliament, the German Bundestag or the European Parliament a referendum will not take place.

(4) The time limit set in paragraph 1 will not run in the period from June 15 to August 15. It runs for up to three months, if the Parliament so decides on a proposal of the initiators; under the same conditions, the period may be extended once. The proposal according sentence 2 is to submit in writing to the President of Parliament.

§ 23 The referendum result

(1) In case the referendum will take place on the election day to the State Parliament or to the German Federal Parliament, the bill or the other template is accepted, if it received the majority of the valid votes and at least the number of votes for the bill or the other template corresponds to the majority of the Hamburg votes represented in the elected Parliament at the same time (Article 50 (3) sentence 10 of the Constitution). Constitutional amendments and amendments on the Electoral Code of the State Parliament of Hamburg, or to the District Assemblies require a majority of two-thirds of the valid votes and at the same time at least two-thirds of the Hamburg votes represented in the election to Parliament at the same time (Article 50 (3) sentence 11 of the Constitution and Article 6 (4) sentence 4 in conjunction with article 50 (3) sentence 11 of the Constitution).

(2) If the referendum takes place on the election day to the State Parliament, the number of votes represented in the Parliament in the sense of paragraph 1 is to determine by a mathematical procedure on the basis of the outcome of the elections determined according to § 31 (1), of the Electoral Code of the Hamburg State Parliament. For this purpose, the total number of votes for political party lists which are considered for seats in Parliament is divided by the number of the total votes and multiplied by the number of total valid ballots for the lists. The product according sentence 2 is, standard rounded as whole number, basis for the calculation of the quorum referred to (1). § 36, paragraph 3, of the Electoral Code of the Hamburg State Parliament applies accordingly.

(3) If the referendum takes place on the election day to the German Federal Parliament, the number of Hamburg votes represented in the German Federal Parliament is determined on the basis of the election result, in the sense of paragraph 1, by a mathematical procedure on the basis of § 42 of the Federal Electoral Code as amended on 23 July 1993 (BGBl. I p. 1289, 1594), last amended on 12 April 2012 (BGBl. I S. 518). For the calculation of the quorum, the number of of votes in Hamburg for political party lists represented in the newly elected Federal Parliament will be reduced by the the corresponding percentage of the participation turnout of the differences between the number of voters in the electoral roll and the number of voters on the eligibility list for referendums and an integer default rounded. § 43, paragraph 4, of the Federal Electoral Code applies accordingly.

(5) If in a simultaneous vote on the same subject on several bills or several other templates not only one bill or one other template receives more valid Yes-votes as No-votes, so the bill or the other template is adopted, which receives the biggest number of votes. If the number of valid votes is equal for several bills or several other templates, the one is accepted which receives after the substraction of the No-votes the biggest number of Yes-votes.

(6) The Government determines the result of the referendum and immediately announces it. The Government shall deliver it to the representatives immediately and informs the Parliament. §36, paragraph 3, of the Electoral Code of the Hamburg State Parliament applies accordingly.

References: Hamburgisches Gesetz über Volksinitiative, Volksbegehren und Volksentscheid (Volksabstimmungsgesetz - VAbstG), 1996, (accessed Dec. 3, 2019)

Subject Matter:

To call a referendum about the promulgation, the amendment or the repeal of a law or a referral with certain issue of political decision-making process

Actors

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

Requirements

Number Of Signatures:
1/20 of the eligible voters
Available Time:
3 weeks
Turnout Quorum:
None
Approval Quorum:
-> If the referendum does not take place on the day of the election to Parliament or to the German Federal Parliament, it is accepted if the majority of votes and at least one-fifth of eligible voters agree. -> Referendum on election day - State Parliament or German Federal Parliament: majority of the valid votes and at least corresponds to the majority of the Hamburg votes represented in the elected Parliament at the same time; Constitutional amendments and amendments on the Electoral Code of the State Parliament of Hamburg, or to the District Assemblies require a majority of two-thirds of the valid votes and at the same time at least two-thirds of the Hamburg votes represented in the election to Parliament(s). If in a simultaneous vote on the same subject on several bills or several other templates not only one bill or one other template receives more valid Yes-votes as No-votes, so the bill or the other template is adopted, which receives the biggest number of votes. If the number of valid votes is equal for several bills or several other templates, the one is accepted which receives after the substraction of the No-votes the biggest number of Yes-votes.
Geographical Quorum:
None
Excluded Issues:

Federal Council initiatives, budgets, taxes, tariffs of public enterprises as well as salaries and pensions

Other Formal Requirements:

A prior agenda initiative must be concluded and not adopted by parliament

Procedural Elements

Collection Mode:
free
Specify Collection Mode:

§ 9 Registration

The citizens' initiative is supported by handwritten signature on registration lists at registration places or free collection by the initiators. The registrations also are performed by other procedures that comply with the requirements of a legally binding authentication and writing on the basis of existing federal and state schemes.

§ 10 Registration lists

(1) The registration lists must doubtless referring to the bill or the other template (§ 3 paragraph 2 No. 1).

The wording of the draft law or other template must be attached. They must include also the indication of the names of the three representatives and their competences under this Act.

(2) The facilities of registration and of venues are to determine so that all eligible citizens have sufficient opportunity to participate in the citizens' initiative.

§ 12 Content of the registration

(1) The registration must contain the first name and family name, the year of birth, address and the signature of the person entitled to registration and the date of the signature performance. § 4, paragraph 3, sentence 2 shall apply accordingly. The signature must be made by hand. If a person authorized for registration explains to a registration authority that she can't write, the signature is replaced by the establishment of this statement.

(2) The registration may not be withdrawn.

§ 13 Registration by letter

(1) Eligible persons for registration can request the entry with a written letter or in an approved electronic process. (..)

§ 14 Invalid registrations

(1) Registrations that do not correspond to the provisions of this act, are not valid.

(2) The District Electoral Board decides on the invalidation of registrations.

References: Hamburgisches Gesetz über Volksinitiative, Volksbegehren und Volksentscheid (Volksabstimmungsgesetz - VAbstG), 1996, (accessed Dec. 3, 2019)

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

§ 30 Accountability 

(1) The initiators have a duty, within two months after submission of the application on carrying out of the referendum (§ 18 paragraph 1) to give account to the State Electoral Officer on the origin and three months after the notification of the result of the referendum (§ 23 paragraph 6) about the origin and use of the funds which are accrued to them for the purpose of conducting the agenda initiative, the citizens' initiative and the referendum. § 25 paragraph 2 numbers 1 and 6 of the Law on Political Parties in the version of 31 January 1994 (Federal Law Gazette I p. 150), last amended on August 23, 2011 (BGBl. I S. 1748), shall apply mutatis mutandis. An accepted illegal donation is to forward at the latest with the delivery of the report to the competent authority.

(2) The initiators of a referendum request have to report the origin and use of the funds, which are accrued to them for the purpose of conducting the referendum initiative and of the referendum within three months after the voting day of the referendum to the State Electoral Officer. Paragraph 1 sentences 2 and 3 apply mutatis mutandis. If a referendum does not take place due to the repeal of an amendment or a changed decision, the reporting of accountability, by way of derogation from sentence 1, must be within three months after the promulgation of the repeal act or repealed decision.

(3) The initiators of a counter template in a Parliament plebiscite have to to be accountable about the origin and use of the funds, which are accrued to them for the purpose of conducting the counter template within three months after the voting day to the State Electoral Board. Paragraph 1 is sentences 2 and 3 apply mutatis mutandis.

(4) The State Electoral Board reports the President of Parliament without delay about the particulars referred to in paragraph 1 and 2. The report is distributed as printed matter of the Parliament.

§ 30 a Reimbursement of costs 

(1) If a referendum is conducted (§ 18), the initiators of the agenda initiative are entitled to refunds of the proven costs of a reasonable information of the public about the goals of a citizens' initiative and referendum. The agenda initiative is carried out by the initiators on their own cost.

(2) The amount of the reimbursement is limited to 0.10 euros for each valid Yes-vote; not more than 400 000 votes are taken into account.

(3) The claim referred to in paragraph 1 is excluded, if the initiators of the agenda initiative did not fulfill their obligation of accountability according to § 30 (1).

(4) After the conducted referendum the initiators of the referendum request have the right of refunds for the proven costs for the adequate information of the public. The paragraphs 2 and 3 shall apply mutatis mutandis, insofar that the valid No-votes are used instead of the Yes-votes. Do the representatives of several registered signature collections make a reimbursement request, the reimbursement amount is reduced according the relationship between the submitted supporting signature lists of each of the initiatives and the referendum request.

(5) If a referendum does not take place due to the repeal of an amendment or changed decision, the initiators of a concluded referendum request, have claim for the reimbursement of the proven expenses for an adequate information to the public in the amount of up to EUR 20,000. Paragraph 3 and paragraph 4 sentence 2 apply mutatis mutandis.

(6) The paragraphs 1 to 3 apply on counter templates in a Parliament plebiscite mutatis mutandis.

References: Hamburgisches Gesetz über Volksinitiative, Volksbegehren und Volksentscheid (Volksabstimmungsgesetz - VAbstG), 1996,(accessed Dec. 3, 2019)

Practice

Archive:
Remarks:

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