Expropriating 240.000 Berlin flats is constitutional, expert panel concludes
A panel of experts commissioned by Berlin’s former red-red-green coalition has presented the governing CDU-SPD coalition with a report stating that nationalising 240.000 flats in Berlin, in keeping with Deutsche Wohnen & Co Enteignen referendum result, would be constitutional.
Deutsche Wohnen & Co Enteignen referendum motion is constitutional
Back in September 2021, people with German passports living in Berlin voted in the Deutsche Wohnen & Co Enteignen referendum. 59,1 percent of residents in the city voted to expropriate housing that was once owned by the state and bring it back into public ownership.
Now, an expert panel commissioned by the recently departed red-red-green coalition of SPD, The Left Party and the Greens, has found that implementing the referendum result would not violate the German Basic Law (Grundgesetz).
According to the panel, the purchase would not mean financial ruin for the local government, since it would not have to pay the current market price to buy back the 240.000 flats. The commission concluded that if Berlin wants to avoid further housing inequality and more tenants with low wages being pushed out to the suburbs, there is no half-hearted solution which will ensure permanently affordable rents for lower-income groups. According to a separate report by the Left Party-affiliated Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, it is thought that nationalising housing in Berlin would bring rents down by 16 percent.
The expert panel also concluded that constructing new properties is not a long-term solution to Berlin's housing crisis and will not provide a permanent supply of affordable housing.
What will happen now?
Like the Giffey-led coalition, since Kai Wegner entered office in April, the Spandauer’s government has done little to set the cogs in motion to implement the referendum result and continue the democratic process into the next stage. Taking an ideological stance on the referendum mandate in July 2021, Wegner warned, “Whoever expropriates, cancels the basic consensus of the social market economy.”
The black-red coalition agreement signed in April made it clear that Wegner’s housing plan strays far from the Deutsche Wohnen & Co Enteignen mandate. The coalition announced that it would cut back on the number of new housing units that companies are required to build each year to 20.000 and made the pledged figure a soft target rather than one that must be adhered to.
Another facet of the CDU-SPD coalition agreement was that if the appointed expert commission concluded that nationalising the Berlin apartments is constitutional, the CDU and SPD would pass the socialisation framework law. Now the panel has decided as such, the socialisation framework law should be drawn up to give guidelines on socialisation criteria and appropriate compensation for companies.
However, the agreement also states that the law would “come into force two years after its promulgation,” which means that companies targeted by the referendum would have ample time to sell their holdings.
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