October 27, 2021

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Germany: Most Berliners support expropriation

Germany: Most Berliners support expropriation

On Sunday, Berliners were asked to answer a question about whether they support the socialization of apartments belonging to large real estate companies, which house more than 3,000 condominiums, and are blamed for the surge in rents in recent years. He is primarily a businessman in the Warsaw market, of interest to Deutsche Wohnen, owning 160,000 apartments, including 116,000 in Berlin, but also Akelius and Vonovia. As suggested by the initiators of the referendum, the “common law factory” will have 240,000 apartments to be moved. The companies will receive compensation.

Most Berliners supported this idea. The head of Berlin’s election commission said on Monday that the “yes” mark had been set by 56.4 percent, or more than a million voters. 39 percent opposed.

Since the initiators of the referendum did not put a specific bill or amendment of the constitution to a vote, the result of the referendum is not binding. The Berlin Senate is not obligated to draft a law on housing socialization. However, representatives of the initiative “Deutsche Wohnen and Co.” emphasized the expropriation. It has long been that the city authorities will simply be able to ignore the opinion of citizens.

On Monday, the leader of Berlin’s Social Democratic Party, and possibly the city’s future mayor, Franziska Jaffe, stressed that she had no intention of ignoring residents’ decisions. – The result of the referendum must be respected and the necessary measures taken – she said in an interview with ARD TV. At the same time, she doubted whether the supposed socialization of housing was possible.

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“If it’s unconstitutional, we can’t do it,” Francesca Givi emphasized. In her opinion, the expropriation of companies will not help the construction of much-needed new apartments in Berlin.

According to the Green Party, which is likely to form a new government with the SPD in Berlin, the response to the referendum result will be an important topic for upcoming coalition talks in the German capital. Party chairwoman Bettina Jarsch also stated that “there are many legal and practical issues that need to be clarified”.

The initiators of the referendum referred to Article 15 of the German Constitution, which states that “land, natural resources and the means of production may be transferred into social ownership or any other form of public economy for socialization in accordance with the law which determines the type and amount of compensation.” They argue that housing is a human right and cannot be a business model.

In turn, he accuses the activist realtors of trying to violate property rights and of wanting to return to socialism directly from the GDR or Marxism.

Berlin authorities and activists estimate the amount of potential compensation to housing companies for the socialization of their property. The Senate is talking about the amount from 28 billion euros to 36 billion euros, and the initiators of the referendum – 7 billion euros to 14 billion euros.

Agence France-Presse, EPD, DPA/widz, Redakcja Polska Deutsche Welle