New housing referendum announced for Berlin
Members of Deutsche Wohnen & Co Enteignen campaign have announced that they will draft a law on expropriating 240.000 houses and apartments from Berlin’s landlords, before putting the draft to a referendum vote.
Deutsche Wohnen & Co Enteignen announce draft law referendum
It has now been two years since 59,1 percent of participating Berliners voted to expropriate 240.000 houses and apartments owned by large private property companies, but local government is yet to lay out any policy which would see the referendum result implemented.
Now, the Deutsche Wohnen & Co Enteignen activists who campaigned to have the original referendum held in September 2021, have announced that - with the help of experts and lawyers - they will draw up a draft law designed to implement the expropriation policy. If all goes to plan, this draft will then be put to a vote in a second referendum which will coincide with the state elections for Berlin in 2026.
The campaigners have now launched a crowdfund which hopes to raise 80.000 euros to pay for the costs of writing the expropriation draft law.
Enteignen campaign accuses Wegner of stalling democracy
Between September 2021, when the initial Deutsche Wohnen & Co Enteignen referendum was held, and June 2023, Berlin’s government took few steps to seriously consider how the referendum result could be implemented in practice.
When the current CDU-SPD coalition entered office in April 2023, it was agreed that if an appointed expert commission concluded that nationalising the Berlin apartments was constitutional, the coalition would pass the socialisation framework law. In June, the expert panel ruled that expropriating the flats would not mean financial ruin for the government and would not violate the German Basic Law (Grundgesetz).
Now Mayor Kai Wegner’s government has to draw up the framework law, but another agreement stipulates that the law could “come into force two years after its promulgation”. Critics have pointed out that this would give private companies enough time to sell their properties to avoid expropriation.
This is a fate that the Enteignen campaigners want to avoid. Speaking to Tagesspiegel shortly before the campaign group announced the plans to write up their own draft law, spokesperson Justus Henze called the government’s yet-unwritten framework law just another part of “a colourful bouquet of delaying tactics”.
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