Constitutional court on “berlin advertising-free”: direct democracy sabotaged

There have been repeated complaints about the shameful handling of referendums. Now the Berlin Constitutional Court has read the Senate the riot act.

Advertising is everywhere in the city, usually far too much – but there is also some that is okay Photo: picture alliance/Paul Zinken/dpa

Stop your Sunday speeches about strengthening direct democracy! Stop pretending to value the engagement of your citizens!

Yes, you are meant, red-red-green members of the Senate, especially of the Senate Department of the Interior. Be honest: The possibility of direct democracy is a burden to you, which you meet with sabotage. How else could one describe the handling of petitions for referendums in this legislative period.

The prominent example: The administration of Interior Senator Andreas Geisel (SPD) took more than 14 months to examine a simple application text of the initiative Deutsche Wohnen und Co. expropriate. Then the decision was made to push a weakening on it and to downgrade the text from a legal mandate to a formally non-binding request.

But it goes still worse: If with the Gegenr*innen of the real estate company at least still one spoke, then other attempts were simply directly with the arrogance of the power from the table wiped. Although there can be no talk of "directly" when, as in the case of the referendum Berlin Werbefrei, it took 16 months until the Senate decided that the law violated the law and submitted it to the Constitutional Court without any feedback from the campaigners for a livable city. The same was done with a petition for a referendum for more video surveillance, but after a record-breaking seven months.

The rule of law works

In both cases, Berlin’s Constitutional Court has slapped the Senate around the ears with its carefully examined decisions. Already in September, it was criticized that the Senate had not discussed its concerns with the surveillance friends, although it is obliged to do so according to the voting law. Section 17, paragraph 4: Have a look, dear responsible persons!

Paragraph 17, section 4: Have a look, dear responsible persons!

A similar ruling followed this week in the case of Berlin Werbefrei. Here, too, the Senate did not think it necessary to communicate, and instead stiffened on the absurd position that the request was inadmissible because the demanded bans on advertising in public spaces and in public spaces coupled two entirely different demands. Nice try, the court ruled.

The rule of law works, so all’s well that ends well?

No! The delaying tactics and refusal practice of the Senate leads, for example, in the case of the advertising liberationists, to the fact that they can now continue, but a referendum parallel to the next election is no longer possible. But getting the necessary number of Berliners to the polls on a separate date is an extremely difficult undertaking. The chances for the committed citizens have been minimized – they can thank the Sunday speakers.

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