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Berliners vote for the expropriation of large housing companies

56.4% of the people in Berlin voted for the expropriation of large housing groups. The referendum “Expropriate Deutsche Wohnen und Co.” was thus accepted. The Berlin State Returning Officer announced this on Monday morning. 39 percent of the voters voted against the expropriation project. Since the required quorum was achieved by a quarter of the eligible voters in the vote, the Berlin Senate is now called upon to implement the referendum.

The spokeswoman for the initiative “expropriate Deutsche Wohnen und Co.”, Joanna Kusiak, announced: “Regardless of the composition - the future government coalition will have to implement the socialization of housing groups. The demand for socialization unites far more voices behind it than any party. We Berliners have decided: Nobody is allowed to speculate with our apartments."

However, it remains questionable whether the referendum can be implemented. Just last Thursday, among others, the constitutional lawyer Ulrich Battis, in an expert opinion for the law firm GSK Stockmann, questioned whether an expropriation to the extent proposed by the initiative could be legally implemented.

Giffey calls for recognition of the referendum
The paper says: “Socialization is not an end in itself. Like all state action that encroaches on fundamental rights, it must be proportionate.” The expropriations sought in the referendum are, however, disproportionate and therefore unconstitutional. It is highly likely that the Federal Constitutional Court will lift the measures immediately.

Meanwhile, the Social Democratic top candidate for the Berlin House of Representatives election, Franziska Giffey, spoke out in favor of recognizing the referendum. "It must now be the preparation of  a draft law," said Giffey to RBB. This draft would then also have to be examined under constitutional law. In the run-up to the referendum, she had resolutely rejected expropriations.

According to the voting text, around 240,000 apartments are to be made public. All private real estate companies that own more than 3,000 apartments are affected. Cooperatives should remain exempt from communalization. 2.5 million Berliners were called for a referendum on Sunday. The result will also influence the coalition negotiations in the newly elected Berlin House of Representatives. According to the Berlin Senate, compensation for the expropriated companies could amount to up to 36 billion euros (42 billion dollars).

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