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

Article 45

All State power emanates from the people. It implements its will through elections, citizens' initiative and referendum. It acts indirectly through the constitutionally appointed bodies of legislation, the executive power and the jurisdiction.

Article 47

(1) The legislation is entitled to the Parliament and the people.

Fifth section The legislation

Article 81 (1) Legislation can be introduced from the middle of the Parliament by the Government or by a citizens' initiative.

(2) Laws are decided by the Parliament or by the people through referendum.

Article 82

(1) Citizens who are eligible to vote according article 46 paragraph 2 may submit an elaborated draft in the way of the citizens' initiative to the State Parliament.

(3) The request for approval of the citizens' initiative must be signed by at least 5 000 voters. If the State Government or one third of the members of the Parliament consider the conditions for approval of the citizens' initiative as not met or as not compatible with higher-ranking law, they shall appeal at the Constitutional Court.

(4) The applicants of the citizens' initiative can appoint representatives. Those have a right to be heard in a Committee.

(7) The State legislature has to decide on a citizens' initiative within six months after its conclusion. If Parliament does not adopt the citizens' initiative, a referendum on the draft bill being subject of the citizens' initiative will be conducted; in this case, the Parliament can present also an own bill to the decision of the people. The majority of the votes cast decides on the adoption of the law. However it is only decided by way of referendum if more than one quarter of the electorate agrees.

(8) The further determines the law.

Article 83

(1) This Constitution can be amended only by a law which explicitly amends the wording or supplements it.

(2) The Parliament may adopt such a law only by a majority of two-thirds of its members. A constitutional amendment by referendum requires the consent of the majority of voters; This majority must be at least 40 per cent of the electorate.

References: Verfassung des Freistaats Thüringen,1993 (accessed Jan. 06, 2020))

§ 10 Request for approval of the citizens' initiative

(1) The request for approval of a citizens' initiative requires the assistance of the signatures of at least 5 000 voters on signature sheets through out the State. The signature performance must be made within six weeks after the start of the collection period. The President of the Parliament must be noticed about the starting point of the collection period.

(2) The request is to address in writing to the President of Parliament. It must contain the decision of the applicant about whether the collection should be done through registration in officially displayed signature sheets or by free collection.

§ 11 Decision on the application for admission

(1) The President of the Parliament decides on the admissibility of the application for approval of the citizens' initiative within six weeks after receipt.

(2) The admissibility of the application for approval of the citizens' initiative is established if

1. it complies with the requirements of §§ 6, 9 and 10 and

2. the Parliament has not dealt within the last two years before receipt of the application for approval of the citizens' initiative with a citizens' initiative about the same factual content.

(3) The decision of the President of the Parliament on the admissibility of the application for approval of the citizens' initiative is to deliver to the representative, as well as the State Government and to announce to the members of Parliament. § 8 para 2 of the Thuringia Administration Notification and Enforcement Act does not apply. A negative decision is to justify.

§ 13 Notice of referendum and the collection period

(1) The President of the Parliament acquaints the permitted application of the citizens' initiative with the underlying Bill and the reasons immediately after expiry of the deadline under § 12 para 2 in the State Gazette for the Free State of Thuringia and shall fix the beginning and end of the collection period.

(2) The collection period for collection by registration in officially displayed signature sheets is two months and free collection four months. It starts as earliest eight, as latest 16 weeks after the announcement.

(3) In the case of invocation of the Constitutional Court according to § 12 para 2 the announcement starts within four weeks after the announcement of the approval decision of the Constitutional Court for the application of admission.

§ 18 Deliberation in the Parliament

The State legislature has to decide on the citizens' initiative within six months after the determination of the conclusion.

Fourth section - Referendum

§ 19 Requirements and subject matter of the referendum

(1) If the Parliament does not accept the bill within the time limit of § 18 the State government has to submit it to a referendum, within another six months; in this case, the Parliament may also present an own bill for the decision of the people.

(2) If Parliament accepts the coveted bill in a modified form, which corresponds to the basic concerns of the citizens' initiative, it can establish the completion of the citizens' initiative on request of the representative. The introduction of a referendum is then omitted.

§ 20 Notice of referendum

(1) The State Government in consultation with the representative set the day of the vote. Article 18, paragraph 1 and 3 State Election Law finds appropriate application.

(2) The State Government publishes the day of voting and the subject matter of the referendum in the State Gazette of the Free State of Thuringia. The notice shall contain:

1. the day of the vote,

2. the text of the draft law and the reasons

3. in case Parliament makes use of the possibility to present an own bill for the decision to the people, the text of this draft law and reasons and

4. the content of the ballot.

(3) The President of the Parliament has to submit a voting brochure to all households, containing all justified bills no later than two weeks before the referendum.

§ 25 Result of the referendum

(1) A bill is adopted by referendum if the majority who cast their votes voted in favour. This however only applies if more than a quarter of the electorate voted in favour.

(2) In a simultaneous vote on several bills which relate to the same subject matter, and each meets the requirements of paragraph 1, the bill is accepted through referendum which received the most Yes-votes. Is the number of valid Yes-votes the same for multiple bills, so the one is accepted, which unites the greatest number of Yes-votes after deduction of the No-votes.

Fifth section Referendum on the Constitution

§ 28 Constitutional amendment by referendum

A constitutional amendment by referendum requires the consent of the majority of voters; This majority must be at least 40 per cent of the electorate.

References: Thüringer Gesetz über das Verfahren bei Bürgerantrag, Volksbegehren und Volksentscheid, 2004 (accessed Ja. 06, 2020)

Subject Matter:

To suggest a law or constitutional amendment

Actors

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

Requirements

Number Of Signatures:
Application: 5000; Citizens' Initiative: 8% (official registration); 10% (free collection)
Available Time:
2 months (official collection); 4 months (free collection)
Turnout Quorum:
None
Approval Quorum:
(Laws): Majority - must correspond at least a quarter of the electorate. (Constitutional amendments): Majority - must be at least 40 per cent of the electorate
Geographical Quorum:
None
Excluded Issues:

Article 82 (2) A citizens' initiative on the State budget, salary and pensions, taxes and personnel decisions is not permitted.

Other Formal Requirements:

§ 3 Representative and deputy representative, Open session of the Committee meeting

(1) A request of citizens or in the application for authorisation of a citizens' initiative has to name a representative and a deputy representative for the applicants. If the nomination is missing, the President of the Parliament urges the applicants to do so within ten days. If the appointment is not made within this period, the President of the Supreme State Court determines the representative and the deputy from the list of signatories of the citizens' agenda initiative or of the application for approval of the citizens' initiative.

(2) The representative and as substitute the deputy representative are entitled to issue binding declarations in the procedures to the citizens' agenda initiative, on approval of the citizens' initiative, the citizens' initiative and the referendum, and are entitled and obliged to accept such declarations.

(3) During the deliberation in Committee meetings of the Parliament about the citizens' agenda initiative or a citizens' initiative, the representative has the right of presence and to speak. All discussions on the citizens' agenda initiatives and a citizens' initiative in the sessions of the Parliament and its committees are public, with the exception of those parts of the Committee meetings, where decisions are taken on the issue.

References: Thüringer Gesetz über das Verfahren bei Bürgerantrag, Volksbegehren und Volksentscheid, 2004 (accessed Ja. 06, 2020)


Procedural Elements

Collection Mode:
free
Specify Collection Mode:

Article 82

(5) With the presentation of the application for approval of the citizens' initiative the applicants have to decide whether the collection of signatures shall be conducted by registration in officially displayed signature sheets or by free collection. A citizens' initiative has been concluded if in case of the officially displayed signature sheets if eight per cent of the electorate within two months have approved or in case of a free signature collection at least ten per cent of voters agreed within four months.

(6) In case of the free collection of signatures for a citizens' initiative specific locations for the collection can be excluded by law. The signature to support a citizens' initiative can be withdrawn by the signatories without specification of reasons up to the end of the collection period.

References: Verfassung des Freistaats Thüringen,1993 (accessed Jan.06, 2020)

§ 6 Design, submission and review of the Signature forms

(1) Each signature for a citizens' agenda initiative, an application for a citizens' initiative and for a citizens' initiative shall be made on separate signature forms. In the case of a citizens' agenda initiative, the content of the application, and in the case of an application for admission of a citizens' initiative or a citizens' initiative, the text and justification of the desired law must be printed in full on the signature forms. Each signature sheet must contain the names and addresses of the trusted person and the deputy trusted person, as well as the information that the personal data collected may only be processed for the purpose of carrying out the respective citizens' agenda initiative, application for a citizens' initiative, a citizens' initiative or referendum, and that they must be destroyed immediately if they are no longer needed for the procedure. Reference must be made to the right of revocation under § 16 Paragraph 3.
(2) The signatures for the citizens' agenda initiative, application for a citizens' initiative, a citizens' initiative must be provided within the respective legally stipulated collection period.
(3) The signature must be provided personally and in handwriting. On the signature form, the first and last name, date of birth, current residential address, and in the case of several places of residence, the address of the signatory's main residence, as well as the date of the signature must be handwritten and clearly legible. As far as the right to vote is based on the Electoral Code according to § 13 sentence 3 ThürLWG or the habitual residence of the signatory, this must be indicated separately and made credible. After the signature has been executed, no handwritten entries can be made. § Section 34 (2) ThürLWG applies accordingly.
( 4 ) Signatures on signature sheets which do not meet the requirements of paragraphs 2 and 3 or signatories whose voting rights have not been confirmed or have been confirmed incorrectly shall be invalid. Invalid shall also be entries which are illegible or incomplete in accordance with paragraph 3, as well as entries which contain an addition or reservation.
(5) The signature sheets must be submitted to the competent registration authority without delay after expiry of the respective collection period by the trusted person or, in the case of signatures on officially issued signature sheets, by the municipalities. The registration authority confirms the signatories' right to vote immediately and free of charge. In the case of multiple signatures, the right to vote is confirmed only once.
(6) At the request of the trusted person, instead of the procedure in accordance with paragraph 5, the signature forms may be sorted by administrative districts, district-free cities and registration authorities be submitted in an orderly manner to the Ministry responsible for citizens' agenda initiatives, application for a citizens' initiatives, a citizens' initiative or referendum for forwarding to the registration authorities.
(7) The registration authorities shall determine the total number of valid and invalid votes for each municipality. The ascertained result, together with the signature forms and the confirmation of eligibility to vote, shall be forwarded to the Parliament without delay. The trusted person may request the President of the Parliament to provide information on the result established by the individual registration authorities.
(8) The procurement and provision of the signature forms for the citizens' petition, the application for admission of citizens' agenda initiatives, application for a citizens' initiatives, a citizens' initiative shall be the responsibility of the applicants.

§ 14 Support of the citizens' initiative by signature collection using registration in officially displayed signature sheets

(1) Voting in favor of the citizens' initiative is done by collection through registration in officially displayed signature sheets in the way of the registration in the signature sheets displayed in the municipalities.

(2) The identity of the signatory is to check; This is done usually by control of the submitted id-card.

(3) The right of registration can only be exercised in the municipality of the voters residence, in case of several residences at his main residence or secondary residence within the meaning of § 13 set 3 ThürLWG, or the normal residence.

§ 15 Registration procedures for signature collection by registration in officially designed signature sheets

(1)The representative of the citizens' initiative shall ensure that cities not belonging to counties and municipalities in counties,and counties shall receive the required number of correct signature sheets against proof of receipt no later than seven business days prior to start of the collection period.

(2) The municipalities are obliged to provide the signature sheets for the duration of the collection period for registration.

The registration areas and hours are to determine so that each voters has ample opportunity to participate in the citizens' initiative.

(3) The representative may require immediate information on the number of signatures registered in the municipalities at the middle of the collection period by the President of the Parliament.

§ 16 Support of the referendum by free collection

(1) Voting in favour of the citizens' initiative in a free collection is made by registration in signature sheets.

(2) The free collection of signatures for a citizens' initiative may not be conducted in authorities and courts. The same applies to establishments of hotels, restaurants and catering, unless an event about the citizens' initiative is carried out there. No collection of signatures may be in doctor's offices as well as offices of lawyers, accountants and notaries.

(3) The signature to support a citizens' initiative may be revoked by the signatories without specification of reasons until the end of the collection period at the registration authority for his residence.

References: Thüringer Gesetz über das Verfahren bei Bürgerantrag, Volksbegehren und Volksentscheid, 2004 (accessed Jan. 06, 2020)

Wording Of Ballot Question:

Article 23 ballots and voting

(1) The ballots are made officially.

(2) The question to be presented in the referendum is to provide so that it can be answered with "Yes" or "No".

(3) If several bills are presented to a vote, they are to list on a ballot in columns side by side. The order of the columns depends on the time of the introduction of the bills for consideration in the Parliament.

(4) The voter marks by a cross or otherwise on the ballot, if he wants to answer the question with "Yes" or "No".

(5) With regard to the validity of votes, § 39 of the State Election Law applies accordingly. A vote is also invalid if the question is answered in case of several bills with "Yes".

References: Thüringer Gesetz über das Verfahren bei Bürgerantrag, Volksbegehren und Volksentscheid, 2004 (accessed Jan. 06, 2020)

Interaction With Authorities:
Supervision And Support:

§ 4 Obligation for Advice

The President of the Parliament has to advise the representative about the formal requirements of a planned citizens request or citizens' initiative, if requested in writing.

References: Thüringer Gesetz über das Verfahren bei Bürgerantrag, Volksbegehren und Volksentscheid, 2004 (accessed Jan. 06, 2020)

Transparency And Finance:

§ 29 Reimbursement of costs

(1) The costs of production of the signature sheets for citizens' agenda initiatives or citizens' initiatives and submitting them to the cities which are not belonging to counties and the counties are carried by the applicants. In addition the State bears the costs necessary for the implementation of citizens' agenda initiative, citizens' initiative or referenda of the municipalities. Ongoing personnel and material costs as well as costs for the use of spaces and facilities of the municipalities are not included.

(2) The applicants will be refunded for the necessary and proven costs for the organization of a concluded citizens' initiative. For any voter who legally has supported a referendum by his signature, the applicants will receive 0.15 Euro. Thereby, only as many signatures are considered as were required for the conclusion of the referendum. The reimbursement is to request in writing within six months after the determination according to § 17 para 2 by the representative to the President of the Parliament.

(3) The applicants will be refunded for the necessary and proven costs of a reasonable referendum campaign. For any voters who voted for a successful referendum for the draft of law the applicant in a valid manner with "Yes", the applicants will receive 0,075 Euro. Only so many votes are considered as were required for the success of the referendum. The reimbursement is to request in writing within six months of the notice according to § 24 para 3 sentence 3 by the representative to the President of the Parliament.

References: Thüringer Gesetz über das Verfahren bei Bürgerantrag, Volksbegehren und Volksentscheid, 2004 (accessed Jan. 06, 2020)

Practice

Archive:
Remarks:

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