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

Article 61 

(1) All State authority emanates from the people. It is exercised by the people in elections and referendums and through special institutions of legislation, the executive power and the Judiciary.

Article 99

(1) A citizens' initiative can be directed towards to adopt, to amend or to repeal a law. A citizens' initiative is allowed only in areas that are subject to the legislation of the State. (..)

(2) The citizens' initiative must be based on an elaborated and reasoned bill. It is to initiate if five thousand voters request it. The citizens' initiative is concluded, if it is supported by at least one-fifth of the electorate.

(3) The State Government decides on admissibility and conclusion of the citizens' initiative. The Constitutional Court can be called against their decisions.

(4) The Government with its opinion has to submit the citizens' initiative to the Parliament without delay.

Article 100 

(1) If the State legislature within two months does not adopt the citizens' initiative, a referendum is to be conducted within another two months. If during this period a new Parliament meets, both periods start to run again.

(2) The draft bill submitted for a decision to the people is to accompany with the concrete and justified costs cover proposal and the opinion of the State government, which in a short form and objective informs about the reasons of the applicants the opinion of the Parliament and the cost-cover proposal on the subject. The State legislature can submit an own bill for the decision of the people.

(3) The law is decided by referendum, if the majority of those who have cast a valid vote, but at least a quarter of the electorate agrees.

Article 101

(1) The Constitution may be amended only by a law which expressly amends or supplements its text. Such a law shall require the consent of two thirds of the members of the Diet. Such a law shall be adopted by referendum if at least half of those entitled to vote take part in the vote and at least two thirds of those voting approve the draft law. No referendum shall be held on the amendment of the Constitution as regards the provisions on the legislative procedure.

(2) The amendment shall not contradict the principles of the constitutional democratic and social rule of law.

(3) If disagreements or doubts exist, whether a law amending the constitution or the template contradicts of such principles of the constitutional democracy the Constitutional Court decides at the request of the State Government, the Parliament of five Members of Parliament or a political group in Parliament.

References: Verfassung des Saarlandes, 1947 (accessed Jan. 06, 2020)

§ 4 Approval procedure 

(1) The request for approval of a citizens' initiative is to address in writing to the Ministry of Home Affairs and Sports.

(2) The application must contain

1. a prepared and reasoned draft of law,

2. in case of cost-causing measures a specific and reasoned proposal to cover the cost.

3. the support of this draft by personal and hand-written signatures of at least five thousand voters, who must be entitled to vote at the time of the signing for the Parliament. The signature must be done at the earliest six months before the receipt of the application by the Ministry of Home Affairs and Sports.

4. proof of eligibility by means of a certificate be given free of charge by the competent municipality,

5. the name of a representative and a deputy representative, who shall be entitled to submit and to accept declarations for the applicants; If this notice is missing the first signatory will be the representative, the second the deputy representative.

(3) If the application contains defects,the Ministry of Home Affairs and Sports asks immediately the representative to remedy it within one month.

(4) The Ministry of Home Affairs and Sports shall inform the Parliament immediately about receiving and the subject-matter of the application.

§ 6 Notice of citizens' initiative

If the request granted the Government will immediately report about the approval of the citizens' initiative and by indication of the draft law, as well as start and end of the support period in the Official Journal of the Saarland. The support period shall start at the earliest six weeks after the publication of the approval and shall be three months.

§ 7 Amendment and withdrawal of the application for admission

(1) After the registration, the application can no longer be amended. It can be withdrawn until the beginning of the support period.

The application for authorisation is considered as to be withdrawn, if the number of supporters drops among five thousand. The withdrawal is carried out by hand signed and written declaration to the Ministry of Home Affairs and Sports.

(2) The Government notes the withdrawal of the application for admission. The decision is to deliver to the representative, and to publish in the Official Journal of the Saarland.

§ 9 Registration right

(1) A citizens who is eligible to vote for Parliament on the day of signing the support sheet has the right to register.

(2) The registration of a person is approved, who

1 is registered in an Registration register or

2. has a registration certificate.

(3) Every entitled person shall register only once. A person can register only in the municipality, in which he is listed in the population register (paragraph 2). Those who have a registration certificate, can register in any registration place in the Saarland.

(..)

§ 10 Registration

(1) The registration must contain family and given name, date of birth, place of residence and apartment and the personal and hand-written signature of the person entitled to registration. A person entitled to register, who is illiterate being physically disabled, may support the citizens' initiative by declaration to the minutes of the municipality. The support cannot be undone.

(2) Ahead of the registration, the municipality has to check the eligibility for registration.

§ 13 Determination of the result

(1) The State Electoral Committee for the election of Parliament determines the result of the citizens' initiative. It is not bound by the decision of the municipality about the validity of the entries.

(2) The State Electoral Officer will send the transcript of the findings of the State Electoral Committee to the State Government.

The latter immediately decides whether the citizens' initiative has been concluded.

(3) The result set by the State Electoral Committee and the decision of the State Government are to be published in the Official Journal of the Saarland.

§ 15 Submission of the citizens' initiative at the Parliament

If the State Government declares the citizens' initiative as concluded, it submits it together with its opinion to the Parliament without delay, (article 99 (4) of the Constitution of the Saarland).

§ 16 Conditions and subject to the referendum

(1) If the Parliament within two months does not comply with the draft bill of the citizens' initiative the Government has to conduct a referendum within another two months, and to publish it in the Official Journal of the Saarland.

If the Parliament adopts the draft bill unchanged, a referendum is omitted. If the Parliament adopts the bill proposal in a modified form, which, however, does not contradict the basic concerns of the citizens' initiative, and the Government rejects the introduction of a referendum, so this decision, which is to deliver the representative and the Parliament, and to publish in the Official Journal of the Saarland, can be challenged before the Constitutional Court.

(2) The notice referred to in paragraph 1 sentence 1 has to contain

1. the day of voting,

2. the text of the draft with justification and in case of cost-causing measures the cost coverage proposal,

3. the opinion of the State Government, which reflects the grounds of the applicants of the citizens' initiative, the negative majority of the Parliament on the subject and the costs cover proposal.

If the Parliament submits an own bill to the subject of the referendum, it has be included with reasons in the publication.

§ 21 Referendum result 

(1) The Parliament examines and decides immediately after the announcement of the voting result on the validity of the vote. It notes whether a draft law has been decided by referendum.

(2) The decision may be appealed at the Constitutional Court. § 14 sentence 2 applies accordingly.

References: Volksabstimmungsgesetz, 2014 (accessed Jan. 06, 2020)

Subject Matter:

To call a referendum on a draft bill

Actors

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

Requirements

Number Of Signatures:
Initial: 5000; Conclusion: 7% of electorate
Available Time:
Initial: 6 months; Conclusion: 3 months
Turnout Quorum:
Only in case of constitutional amendment: at least half of the voters participate
Approval Quorum:
Majority of valid votes, but at least a quarter of the electorate agrees Constitutional amendment: if at least half of the voters participate in the vote and at least two-thirds of those voting approve the Bill
Geographical Quorum:
None
Excluded Issues:

About financial laws, in particular laws on taxes, salary, State services and the State budget, a citizens' initiative will not take place.

A referendum on amending the Constitution with regards to the rules to the legislative procedure does not take place.

Other Formal Requirements:

Procedural Elements

Collection Mode:
restricted
Specify Collection Mode:

§ 8 Support sheets

(1) The applicants at their own expense have to inform the municipalities in writing about the reasoned draft and, in case of measures causing costs, the costs cover proposal and send the support sheets, which must indicate the citizens' initiative by proof of receipt no later than a week before the start of the support period.

(2) The municipalities are obliged to provide the support sheets for the duration of the support period to the personal, handwritten input of support.

The registration places and time are to determine that every eligible person to register has ample opportunity to participate in the citizens' initiative.

(3) The municipalities publicly announce a week before the start of the period of support about the registration places, registration times, and the support period.

§ 11 Invalid registrations

Registrations are not valid if

1. the requirements of § 10 para.1 (2) are not met

2. the person of the eligible voter cannot be clearly identified,

3. made by persons not entitled for registration.

4. not made on the proper support sheet or not done in time,

5. contain a supplementary or addition,

6. are multiple.

References: Volksabstimmungsgesetz, 2014 (accessed Jan. 06, 2020)

Wording Of Ballot Question:

§ 19 Ballot

(1) The ballot and the corresponding envelopes for postal voting will be made officially.

(2) The question to be submitted to the referendum is to ask in such a way that it can be answered with "Yes" or "No".

(3) If several bills relating to the same subject matter, are for a vote, these are to be listed one one ballot sheet. The order depends on the number of valid signatures of support identified by the State Electoral Committee. If Parliament presented an own bill to the decision of the people, it is stated before those drafts of the citizens' initiative.

(4) With regard to the invalidation of ballots § 33 of the State election law will apply accordingly. A ballot is also invalid if questions referred to several bills relating to the same subject matter will be answered with "Yes" several times.

References: Volksabstimmungsgesetz, 2014 (accessed Jan. 06, 2020)

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

Practice

Archive:
Remarks:

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