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

Article 48 Citizens' initiative 

(1) A citizens' initiative can be directed towards adopting, amending or repealing a law within the framework of the legislative power of the State. The citizens' initiative must be based on an elaborated draft statute with reasons. Laws on the state budget, on public dues and on salaries and superannuation benefits cannot be the subject of a citizens' initiative.

(2) The state government decides whether the citizens' initiative is admissible; the state tribunal can be invoked against its decision.

(3) The citizens' initiative materialises if it is backed by ten percent of those entitled to vote. The state government then refers the draft statute with its comment to the state assembly without delay.

Article 49 Referendum 

(1) If the state assembly fails to accept essentially unamended a draft statute which has been referred to it on the basis of a citizens' initiative within six months, a referendum is held on the draft statute not later than six months after expiry of the deadline or after the resolution by the state assembly not to accept the draft as a law. The state assembly can submit to the people a draft statute of its own on the subject of the citizens' initiative for its decision.

(2) A law is passed by referendum if the majority of those casting their votes, but at least one-quarter of those entitled to vote, has approved the draft. The constitution can be amended by referendum only with the approval of at least half those entitled to vote.

References: CONSTITUTION OF LOWER SAXONY, 1993, (accessed Dec. 13, 2019)

Third section A citizen initiative

§ 12 The subject of the citizen initiative 

(1) A citizen initiative can be directed towards to enact a law in relation to the legislative power of the state, to change or repeal it. The citizen initiative must be based on an elaborated bill, with reasons. Laws on the State budget, public levies and service and pensions cannot be the subject of a citizen initiative (article 48 para 1 of the Lower Saxony Constitution).

(2) The justification of the draft law needs to explain the cost and loss of revenue, to expect during the adoption of the law for the State, for municipalities, for the counties and affected other carriers of public administration in the foreseeable (article 68 of the Lower Saxony Constitution).

§ 15 Notification procedure 

(1) The intention to collect signatures for a citizen initiative is to display in writing to the State Electoral Officer. The application must include the bill and the rationale and name the representatives. The request must be personally signed by all representatives.

(2) The State Electoral Officer gives notice to Parliament and Government about the intended referendum.

(3) The State Electoral Officer submits a pattern for the design of the signature sheets for the citizens' initiative to the representatives.

(4) The intended citizen initiative has to be introduced with a brief reproduction of its content and the naming of the representatives in the Lower Saxony Ministerial Gazette.

§ 16 Registrations in the signature lists

(1) The people who want to support the citizen initiative shall register in the signature sheets with legible indication of the first and family name, the date of birth and the main residence and must sign by hand. The same person may register only once.

(2) If on a signature sheets several people registered, they must have their main residence in the same municipality.

(3) A registration may not be withdrawn.

§ 18 Invalidation of registrations 

(1) the registration of a person in a signature sheet is not valid if

1. the enlistment is made on a signature sheet, which contains deviations from the pattern which was submitted by the State Electoral Officer according to § 15 para 3,

2. the registration is contrary to § 16, paragraph 1,

3. the registered person is not entitled to vote on the day of registration in the signature sheet,

4. the registered person does not have the main residence in the municipality, to which the signature sheet is submitted, or

5. the signature sheet is not timely filed.

(2) If an entry with regard to the indication of the first name or the main residence is not without doubt, it results by way of derogation from paragraph 1 No. 2 not to its invalidity, if the reporting authorities can assign the registration with the assistance of the population register clearly to a person. Multiple registrations will be counted as one.

§ 19 Decision on the admissibility of the citizen initiative 

(1) As soon as valid entries of at least 25 000 voters are present at the municipalities, the representatives can apply for the admissibility of the citizen initiative (article 48 para 2 of the Lower Saxony Constitution). If the number referred to in clause 1 is not reached within six months after the publication in accordance with § 15 para 4 or within this period the application according sentence 1 is not submitted, the citizen initiative is concluded. If later than two weeks before the expiry of the six-month period is announced to the representatives, that the number referred to in sentence 1 has been reached, the application according sentence 1 can be made still within two weeks after the announcement.

(2) The request must be submitted at the State Electoral Officer who forwards it to the Government for decision.

(3) The decision of the Government is to submit via the competent Ministry to the representatives. If the inadmissibility of the citizen initiative is determined it is to justify.

§ 22 Determination of the result of the citizen initiative 

(1) At the request of representatives, after the deadline for the submission of signature sheets (§ 17 par. 1), at the latest, the State Electoral Committee determines the result of the citizen initiative. It is not bound by the opinion of the municipalities on the validity of the entries.

(2) The citizen initiative is concluded, if it is supported by at least 10 per cent of the electorate (article 48 para 3 sentence 1 of the Lower Saxony Constitution). The number of the electorate is considered to be the official number of eligible voters in the last state election.

Article 23 Template of the citizen initiative at the Parliament 

The State Electoral Officer sends the result of the citizen initiative to the state government. It immediately forwards the bill with its opinion to the Parliament (article 48 para 3 sentence 2 of the Lower Saxony Constitution).

Fourth section Referendum 

§ 24 Referendum 

(1) If parliament does not adopt a bill based on a citizen initiative essentially unchanged, within a period of six months after the decision of parliament, but no later than six months after the deadline or after the decision of the Parliament not to adopt the draft law a referendum will be conducted.

(2) Parliament may present an own draft law on the subject of the citizens' initiative to the decision of the people (article 49 (1) of the Lower Saxony Constitution). If Parliament approves a bill introduced by a citizen initiative with more than only minor changes, it will be considered as own bill of the State Parliament.

(3) The State Government decides about the day and the time of the vote.

§ 30 Voting 

(1) The vote may be only for a "Yes" or "No". By a cross or otherwise on the ballot the voter shows whether he wants to answer the question with "Yes" or "No".

(2) In the case of § 28 para 3 the voting person may give an affirmative or a negative vote to each of the bills. There is no need to vote on each of the bills.

§ 33 The referendum result 

(1) A law is decided by referendum, if the majority of those who cast their votes, but at least a quarter of the electorate, has agreed to the draft. The Constitution is only changed by referendum if at least half of the electorate agrees. (Article 49 paragraph 2 of the Lower Saxony Constitution).

(2) If in the case of § 28 para 3, more than one of the bills reached the result referred to in paragraph 1, the draft is accepted which received the most Yes-votes. If several of these drafts have reached the same number of votes, the bill with the largest surplus of Yes-votes in comparison to the No-Votes is adopted.

References: Niedersächsisches Gesetz über Volksinitiative, Volksbegehren und Volksentscheid, 1994, (accessed Dec. 13, 2019)

Subject Matter:

To call a referendum on adopting, amending or repealing a law/constitution

Actors

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

Requirements

Number Of Signatures:
10 per cent of the electorate
Available Time:
6 months
Turnout Quorum:
None
Approval Quorum:
Law: majority of those who cast their votes, but at least a quarter of the electorate; Constitutional amendment: at least half of the electorate
Geographical Quorum:
None
Excluded Issues:

Laws on the State budget, public levies and service and pensions

Other Formal Requirements:

Procedural Elements

Collection Mode:
free
Specify Collection Mode:

§ 13 Signature sheets 

(1) For the citizen initiative the signature sheets are to use, which comply with the provisions of this Act and the regulations adopted by regulation according to § 38.

(2) In the signature sheets, the bill to be introduced by the citizen initiative and the grounds must be shown.

§ 15 Notification procedure

(1) The intention to collect signatures for a citizen initiative is to display in writing to the State Electoral Officer. The application must include the bill and the rationale and name the representatives. The request must be personally signed by all representatives.

(2) The State Electoral Officer gives notice to Parliament and Government about the intended referendum.

(3) The State Electoral Officer submits a pattern for the design of the signature sheets for the citizens' initiative to the representatives.

(4) The intended citizen initiative has to be introduced with a brief reproduction of its content and the naming of the representatives in the Lower Saxony Ministerial Gazette.

§ 16 Registrations in the signature lists

(1) The people who want to support the citizen initiative shall register in the signature sheets with legible indication of the first and family name, the date of birth and the main residence and must sign by hand. The same person may register only once.

(2) If on a signature sheets several people registered, they must have their main residence in the same municipality.

(3) A registration may not be withdrawn.

§ 17 Submission and evaluation of the signature lists

(1) At the earliest on the day after the publication in accordance with § 15 para 4, the signature sheets are to be submitted no later than six months after determining the admissibility of the citizen initiative (§ 19) at the municipality, where the registered persons have their main residence. Each person is entitled to filing.

(2) The municipality immediately determines the validity of registrations and notes it on the signature sheets. The right to vote must have been valid on the day of the filing.

(3) The municipality informs the State Electoral Officer on request about how many valid registrations are available.

References: Niedersächsisches Gesetz über Volksinitiative, Volksbegehren und Volksentscheid, 1994, (accessed Dec. 13, 2019)


Wording Of Ballot Question:

§ 28 Ballots, voting question

(1) The ballots are provided by the State Electoral Officer.

(2) On the ballot, the question is to be submitted whether the voter agrees with the bill introduced by a citizen initiative.

(3) If several bills, relating to the same subject-matter, but in terms of content are not compatible, are for the vote, they are to list on a ballot with a short name. Their order depends on the number of valid registrations identified by the State Electoral Committee. If Parliament presents an own Bill to the decision, it is listed after the draft of bills proposed by citizens' initiative. The question is to provide for each of these bills referred to in paragraph 2.

§ 30 Voting

(1) The vote may be only for a "Yes" or "No". By a cross or otherwise on the ballot the voter shows whether he wants to answer the question with "Yes" or "No".

(2) In the case of § 28 para 3 the voting person may give an affirmative or a negative vote to each of the bills. There is no need to vote on each of the bills.

References: Niedersächsisches Gesetz über Volksinitiative, Volksbegehren und Volksentscheid, 1994, (accessed Dec. 13, 2019)

Interaction With Authorities:
Supervision And Support:
Transparency And Finance:

Article 50 Reimbursement of expenses, regulatory statute

(1) If a citizens' initiative has materialised, the representatives of the

citizens' initiative have a right to reimbursement of the costs involved in providing adequate information to the general public on the objectives of the citizens' initiative.

(2) Further details on agenda initiative, citizens' initiative and referendum are regulated by legislation.

References: CONSTITUTION OF LOWER SAXONY, 1993, (accessed Dec. 13, 2019)

§ 39 Cost

(1) If a citizen initiative is concluded, the representatives of the initiative have the right for reimbursement of necessary expenses of an adequate information of the public about the aims of the citizen initiative (Article 50 para 1 of the Lower Saxony Constitution).

(2) The State reimburses the necessary costs of the municipalities and municipal associations, incurred in the preparation and conduct of a referendum by a fixed amount per voting. The amount can be graded according to municipality size. Part of the expenditure can be compensated regardless of the size of the municipality and the number of voters by a base amount.

(3) The costs of compensation according to paragraphs 1 and 2, are set by regulation by the Ministry of the Interior in consultation with the Ministry of Finance. Ongoing personnel and material costs, and costs for the use of spaces and facilities are not taken into account.

References: Niedersächsisches Gesetz über Volksinitiative, Volksbegehren und Volksentscheid, 1994, (accessed Dec. 13, 2019)

Practice

Archive:
Remarks:

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