2021 Berlin referendum

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Expropriate Deutsche Wohnen & Co.
Deutsche Wohnen & Co Enteignen campaign logo.svg
Campaign logo
Native name Deutsche Wohnen & Co. enteignen
Date2018–present
LocationBerlin, Germany
Websitedwenteignen.de
Results
Choice
Votes %
Yes 1,035,950 59.14%
No 715,698 40.86%
Valid votes 1,751,648 97.41%
Invalid or blank votes 46,660 2.59%
Total votes 1,798,308 100.00%
Registered voters/turnout 2,447,600 73.47%

Volksentscheid Berlin 2021.svg
Results by borough

The 2021 Berlin referendum, formally referred to as Deutsche Wohnen & Co. enteignen (English: Expropriate Deutsche Wohnen & Co.) or DW enteignen, was a referendum held in Berlin in 2021. Voters were asked if they approved of the expropriation of the property of private real-estate companies with 3,000 or more units in the city, through public purchases by the Berlin state government. This would affect 243,000 rental apartments out of 1.5 million total apartments in Berlin. The largest such real-estate company is Deutsche Wohnen, for which the initiative is named, followed by Vonovia.[1] In total, the referendum would impact 12 large real-estate companies.[2]

The initiative for the referendum was originally launched in 2018. It successfully passed the first signature-collecting phase in July 2019, receiving at least 58,000 valid signatures of the 20,000 required; and the second phase in June 2021, receiving at least 175,000 of the 170,000 required.

The referendum took place on 26 September 2021 alongside the state and federal election. The expropriation proposal passed the legal quorum of 25% of eligible voters, receiving the approval of 57.6% of voters, while 39.8% voted against. The result is non-binding.[3]

Background[edit]

Article 14 of the German constitution states that "property entails obligations. Its use shall also serve the public good".[4] This passage has been used previously in the past to advocate for pauses on rent increases or expropriation of high-volume property ownership.[5]

Article 15 states the legal basis that "Grund und Boden [..] können zum Zwecke der Vergesellschaftung durch ein Gesetz [..] in Gemeineigentum.. überführt werden"[6] (Land, natural resources and means of production may, for the purpose of socialization, be transferred to public ownership or other forms of public enterprise by a law that determines the nature and extent of compensation).[7] This Article has never been used before.[5]

Even if the referendum passes, it would not be legally binding,[8] and specific language would need to be spelled out, including compensation amounts which then would need to be passed by the Berlin Senate.[5] The German constitution says the compensation amount should balance the interests of the public and other stakeholders.[5] It would cost taxpayers an estimated amount between 7 and 36 billion euros, with the higher end being market rates.[2][8] If the compensation amount is on the higher end, it could diminish the initiative's effectiveness.[9]

Initiative[edit]

Signature collection—phase 1[edit]

A total of 77,001 signatures were collected between April and July 2019. At least 58,000 of them were validated, exceeding the 20,000 signatures quorum required for a legal review by the Berlin Senate Department for the Interior and Sports.[8][10]

Legal review[edit]

The legal review by the Berlin Senate took place over a period of 441 days from 4 July 2019 to 17 September 2020.[8] Interior Senator Geisel was accused of intentionally delaying the review by the initiative, The Left and Green parties.[8] The text of the resolution was modified in order to be legally compliant.[8][11]

Signature collection—phase 2[edit]

A further 349,658 signatures were collected over a four month period between 26 February and 25 June 2021.[7] At least 261,000 signatures were checked, with over 175,000 of them being legally valid, exceeding the quorum of 170,000 signatures or 7% of eligible voters (German Berlin citizens) required to initiate a public referendum.[12] It was the highest number of signatures ever collected in a Berlin referendum.[7]

Referendum[edit]

Poster for the Deutsche Wohnen & Co. enteignen campaign with the slogan "Ja! zum Volksentscheid" (Vote yes for the referendum!)

With the signature collection phase cleared, a referendum was scheduled for 26 September 2021, the same time as the Berlin state and federal elections. A majority of votes in favour of the referendum and a minimum of 25% of all eligible voters in favour are needed for the referendum to succeed, approximately 625,000 votes.[13][14] In 2013, the energy referendum was approved by 83% of those who voted, but failed because only 24.2% of Berlin voters voted in favour, while the quorum required was of 25% or more to do so.[15]

Valid Voter Tally by District[16]
District Yes (Ja) No (Nein)
Voters Percent Zahl Percent
01 – Mitte 95,681 63.7% 47,948 31.9%
02 – Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg 95,207 72.4% 31,632 24.0%
03 – Pankow 134,339 60.8% 78,261 35.4%
04 – Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf 83,422 50.1% 75,263 45.2%
05 – Spandau 57,563 51.9% 47,610 42.9%
06 – Steglitz-Zehlendorf 77,237 44.0% 89,452 51.0%
07 – Tempelhof-Schöneberg 93,887 53.4% 73,656 41.9%
08 – Neukölln 84,749 60.7% 47,063 33.7%
09 – Treptow-Köpenick 91,431 58.5% 58,722 37.6%
10 – Marzahn-Hellersdorf 75,410 55.8% 53,244 39.4%
11 – Lichtenberg 88,032 60.9% 50,260 34.8%
12 – Reinickendorf 57,751 45.1% 62,103 48.5%
Berlin combined 1,034,709 56.4% 715,214 39.0%

Reception[edit]

Support Oppose
Housing groups Berlin Tenant Association [de], Berlin Tenant Community [de].[17]
Political parties The Left, Greens,[18] JUSOS (SPD Youth)[19] SPD,[4][20] CDU,[12] AfD, FDP[20]
Trade unions IG Metall, GEW, ver.di and DGB Jugend[21]
Interest groups Association of Berlin-Brandenburg Housing Companies [de][22]

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Germans protest against rising rents and portfolio-hungry landlords". euronews. 6 April 2019. Retrieved 14 August 2021.
  2. ^ a b "Berlin's rental revolution: activists push for properties to be nationalised". the Guardian. 4 April 2019. Retrieved 14 August 2021.
  3. ^ Paul, Ulrich. "Volksentscheid: Mehr als eine Million Berliner wollen Wohnungen enteignen". Berliner Zeitung (in German). Archived from the original on 26 September 2021. Retrieved 27 September 2021.
  4. ^ a b Knight, Ben (27 October 2019). "Berlin Social Democrats reject expropriation of homes | DW | 27.10.2019". Deutsche Welle. Archived from the original on 27 October 2019. Retrieved 14 August 2021.
  5. ^ a b c d Würmann, Isaac (10 May 2021). "A Radical Plan to Stop Rising Rents by Seizing Apartments From Landlords". Slate Magazine. Retrieved 14 August 2021.
  6. ^ Schulz, Bert (25 June 2021). "Initiative Deutsche Wohnen enteignen: Ansage an Politik und Wirtschaft". Die Tageszeitung: taz (in German). ISSN 0931-9085. Retrieved 8 August 2021.
  7. ^ a b c Flakin, Nathaniel (24 February 2021). "Red Flag: Nationalise Deutsche Wohnen!". Exberliner magazine. Retrieved 8 August 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ a b c d e f Joswig, Gareth (17 September 2020). "Deutsche Wohnen & Co enteignen zulässig: Sozialismus kann kommen". Die Tageszeitung: taz (in German). ISSN 0931-9085. Retrieved 14 August 2021.
  9. ^ Casey, Ruairi; Ponsford, Matthew (17 November 2020). "Berliners want to expropriate 250,000 homes. Here's what stands in their way". City Monitor. Archived from the original on 14 August 2021. Retrieved 14 August 2021.
  10. ^ Wiens, Bernhard (28 July 2019). "Wem gehört die Mieterstadt?". heise online (in German). Retrieved 14 August 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  11. ^ "Zulässigkeitsprüfung für Volksbegehren abgeschlossen". www.berlin.de (in German). 17 September 2020. Retrieved 14 August 2021.
  12. ^ a b "Enteignungs-Initiative hat wohl genügend Unterschriften für Volksentscheid" (in German). www.rbb24.de. Retrieved 8 August 2021.
  13. ^ Sullivan, Arthur (24 September 2021). "Berlin faces expropriation vote: What happens if the people say 'yes'? | DW | 24.09.2021". Deutsche Welle. Archived from the original on 7 September 2021. Retrieved 26 September 2021.
  14. ^ "Immobilien-Volksentscheid findet am 26. September statt". www.rbb24.de (in German). Retrieved 8 August 2021.
  15. ^ "Berlin Referendum on Buying Electricity Grid from Vattenfall Fails". Der Spiegel. 4 November 2013. Archived from the original on 4 November 2013. Retrieved 26 August 2021.
  16. ^ "Volksentscheid "Deutsche Wohnen & Co enteignen" 2021". Landeswahlleiterin Berlin.
  17. ^ Groll, Tina. "Werden jetzt Immobilienkonzerne in Berlin enteignet?" [Are real estate companies in Berlin being expropriated?]. www.zeit.de (in German). Archived from the original on 25 June 2021. Retrieved 8 August 2021.
  18. ^ "Berliner Grüne befürworten Enteignung von Wohnungsunternehmen". www.zeit.de. Archived from the original on 20 March 2021. Retrieved 8 August 2021.
  19. ^ Kiesel, Robert (14 March 2021). "Berliner Jusos wollen Wohnungskonzerne enteignen". Der Tagesspiegel Online (in German). Retrieved 8 August 2021.
  20. ^ a b Tunk, Carola. "Berlin: Müller gegen Enteignung von Wohnungskonzernen". Berliner Zeitung (in German). Archived from the original on 26 February 2021. Retrieved 8 August 2021.
  21. ^ Kiesel, Robert (16 February 2021). "Berliner Gewerkschaften unterstützen Volksbegehren zur Enteignung". Der Tagesspiegel Online (in German). Retrieved 8 August 2021.
  22. ^ "Berlin stimmt über "Enteignung" von Wohnungskonzernen ab". Haufe.de (in German). Archived from the original on 24 May 2020. Retrieved 8 August 2021.

External links[edit]