Strengthen Berlin – Power to the People

Election platform 2021 Chapter 4

Strengthen referendums

Our city is hectic, noisy and dirty. The administration is broken, many public buildings are run down. Countless apartments belong to anonymous financial players and speculators. The hospitals are overcrowded and overburdened. In short: The citizens of this city have long been kept out of sight. We demand change and rethinking now! Berlin must finally breathe a sigh of relief! To do this, we need to reflect on the essence of our city: Berlin - that's the people. We are a city of neighborhoods, of markets, of small merchants, of strollers and idlers, of individual lifestyles, of small and large freedoms. And all that means: participation, co-determination - for everyone, as comprehensively as possible.

To achieve this, we must change the rules: Direct democracy gives citizens more opportunities than just "casting their vote" every few years. Every inhabitant of Berlin should have the right to vote, regardless of their citizenship. The number of signatures required for popular initiatives and petitions must be reduced, and deadlines extended. Digital technologies reduce barriers and provide easier access (to legislation). It is necessary to simplify the bureaucratic process of referendums and make them legally binding, so that it becomes harder for politicians to override successful decisions.

Direct and democratic

Citizens' councils will become an integral part of Berlin politics at the state and district level. A representative cross-section of the Berlin population over the age of 14 will be drawn as participants. The important thing is that the decisions of the councils will be politically binding and cannot simply be ignored by the senate and districts. If the political bodies do not want to implement these decisions, a Berlin- or district-wide referendum will be held. Active participation of the citizens must be strengthened. The people of Berlin know best what is good for their city. And especially in an important time of transformation, as we are experiencing today, their voice must be heard. In order to ensure the implementation of citizens' decisions in the long term, there will be a state commissioner for democracy development in the future. This position will serve as a central coordinator and promoter of citizen participation and as a point of contact for all citizens' democracy concerns.

Who runs the world? Girls*!

Climate justice means the end of patriarchal structures. Not only the supervisory boards of listed companies have equal representation, but also boards of directors, decision-making bodies and parliaments. Companies and institutions with equal representation are given preference in the allocation of public funds and research funding. Decisions made by non-parity bodies can be challenged.

My body, my decision: Self-determination over one's own body is an unrestricted right. Hygiene and contraceptive products are provided free of charge in Berlin. Unintentionally pregnant people have comprehensive and barrier-free access to information on abortion and counseling services. The regulations on this are clearly formulated and are part of health care. The decision on abortions is removed from the control of the state. § Section 218 and Section 219a are deleted from the Criminal Code. Unused ova from reproductive processes of infertile couples can be made available as a donation.

Power to the children

Climate means the future. Therefore, codetermination must also be possible for those people who will bear the consequences of our current decisions. We stand for intergenerational justice and for lowering the voting age to 14 for elections to the German Bundestag, the Berlin House of Representatives and district councils. Berlin is working at the federal level for corresponding changes in the law. In order to explore the full range of possibilities, we are also having an independent study conducted by the state of Berlin. It will serve to develop appropriate measures for the participation of children and young people in all areas of life relevant to them.

Administration for the good

Only with a strong and efficient administration can we meet the challenges of the climate crisis. Our public administration has been systematically financially damaged by Berlin's governing parties over the decades. Unclear competencies, staff shortages and the privatization of sovereign tasks have resulted in an unprecedented loss of image and efficiency. This must end. Berlin needs a strong administration with a new self-confidence that sees itself as a supporter of the people of this city. This includes, not least, strengthening the motivation and initiative of the people who work in the administration. Appropriate pay is just as important. And equipment that fits into the 21st century.

Proviso for the climate

Climate-friendly urban redevelopment requires appropriate and targeted management. We will redesign, streamline and consistently digitize processes and official procedures from a citizen's perspective. This will make them simpler and more accessible. This will make processing easier and faster and ensure greater transparency for citizens, who will be much more involved in the city's numerous planning processes than they have been in the past. All decisions made by the administration have a clear premise: the Berlin climate. All decisions are subject to a "climate proviso" so that efficiency and benefits for the city, the environment and society can be examined and, if necessary, better alternatives sought.

Administration as a role model

The administration also serves as a role model. The entire vehicle fleet is being converted to 100 % climate-neutral drives. Buildings and office space are supplied with electricity and heat from renewable energy sources, and roof surfaces are used for photovoltaics. Finances must also finally be made sustainable. The state of Berlin is a customer of Postbank and Sparkasse-Landesbank, both of which invest in coal power and armaments. We put an end to this irresponsibility! In the future, Berlin will keep its accounts with social-ecological banks. In addition, the administration introduces a CO2 shadow price in the amount of the follow-up costs of currently 195 €. Thus, the actual climate and environmental costs will be priced into any investment and purchase decisions of Berlin.

Transparency for Berlin

We are committed to radical transparency laws. The referendum on a transparency law has already set a course that clearly goes beyond the Senate's proposal. The work of politics and administration must become "transparent. Among other things, a portal will be set up in which information about state-owned companies can be viewed by the public. Contracts worth 100,000 euros or more between public corporations or state institutions and the private sector can then be read. At the same time, all information will be free of charge. The new openness drastically reduces the previous volume of public inquiries to the administration. This reduces contradictions and complaints. The time and personnel resources freed up will benefit day-to-day business - and all of us.

Steering authority by law

The amendment to the District Administration Act is a declaration of bankruptcy in terms of climate policy. Instead of "target agreements," we demand concrete measures. The "Environment and Nature Conservation Office" must be established as a separate fixed business area at the district level. It will be equipped with the necessary competencies to achieve sustainable, fast, appropriate and inter-district solutions for a climate-friendly city. Each district will have a team of climate protection officers with clear guidelines, more competence and sufficient staff.

Act local, think connected

We need to think outside the box. Berlin's climate-friendly urban redevelopment needs numerous new collaborations. Brandenburg is at the top of the list. Businesses and institutions based there will be invited at all levels to participate in Berlin's energy transition. Berlin and Brandenburg are already linked by a close partnership at the administrative level. Other sectors are to follow: Food, transportation, industry, education, urban and regional development, recreation, environmental protection, water, air - but also political administration. This new symbiosis will become a model for further partnerships. With neighboring EU countries and other pioneers of climate protection, we are exchanging experiences and jointly developing sustainable ideas. Because progress only succeeds through dialog.

Economy for people and climate

Digital-sustainable model city

We see the comprehensive digitization of the economy and society as an opportunity to make our coexistence more inclusive, social and sustainable. To this end, we are tackling key challenges that have so far been completely ignored in political Berlin. By establishing a free and open WLAN network within the S-Bahn ring, we are curbing the double network expansion (mobile and wired). This will create a socially just, municipalized broadband Internet supply throughout the city. We are creating independence from the (market) interests of non-European players with data protection-oriented and energy-efficient data centers. And we are committed to realizing a digital self-sovereign identity (SSI) for citizens.

Existing and newly planned data centers are directly integrated into the city's heat cycle. In this way, we use waste heat and reduce energy consumption. We implement close monitoring of the rebound effects of digitization measures and promote the acquisition and operation of digital end devices from the most sustainable production possible. The purchase of remanufactured devices is preferable to buying new ones. Berlin companies should regularly provide information on the energy efficiency of their products and services and on the degree of their "dematerialization," i.e., their dependence on physical products such as paper or fossil resources. In addition, we want to investigate ways in which Berlin's businesses can transparently and fairly measure their efforts toward climate-positive business practices and how the state can appropriately value and promote these efforts. We position ourselves against any form of (increasingly energy-hungry) surveillance technology and data retention. We vehemently oppose the introduction of such measures.

Zebras instead of unicorns

Berlin must use its attractiveness and appeal to prioritize social and sustainable business models. Social entrepreneurs and sustainable initiatives will find all the necessary conditions in Berlin from now on to start with full support, to network effectively and to act with maximum impact. We are establishing a "Social Impact Fund" to support non-profit businesses and initiatives with a focus on the common good and climate justice. We follow the example of "Nesta" in the UK, which uses so-called dormant assets: the unclaimed account balances of deceased persons without heirs.

We support efforts to establish new, sustainable business models (e.g., in so-called steward-ownership). We will also implement the Wuppertal Institute's concept of alternative "Economic Development 4.0" on a large scale to promote local and small-scale sustainable economic cycles. We support the corresponding initiatives to create suitable legal foundations. We will also create comprehensive interfaces in the areas of administration and public infrastructure that enable the inclusion of and cooperation with Berlin's business community, especially social startups, as well as independent experts. A consistent focus on the use of open source software and hardware is mandatory, so that independent experts can gain insight into energy efficiency and security at any time and participate in the further development of digital public services. We also want to create incubators for system innovation for the use of the interfaces mentioned above and for the further development of the social foundations of urban and global coexistence.

A different type of tourism

We miss the guests in our city. We don't, however, miss cheap flights, shopping amok and Airbnb peddlers. After the end of the pandemic, Berlin's tourism needs a new start. The Senate's concepts for "sustainable tourism" do not meet the needs of either the industry or the affected citizens of the city.

We want to prohibit the commercial misappropriation of residential space and punish violators consistently. Instead of international corporations and chains, local businesses should profit from our guests: small guesthouses and hostels, family restaurants, conversations in front of the Späti in the neighborhood. This is how we show travelers the uniqueness of our city - with well-paid staff and secure jobs in the hotel and hospitality industry and on city tours. Guests use public transportation to get around the city. The costs for this are covered by a climate-related expansion of the city tax introduced in 2014, staggered according to the means of travel and length of stay in our city.

Above all, however, an overall concept is needed to rule out "overtourism" in the future. Politicians, the urban community and the tourism industry must develop a joint perspective for this. We are convinced that a healthy downsizing of the sector is best for all concerned.

Rescue plan for art, culture and clubs

The pandemic has hit Berlin's art, culture and club sector to the core. More than a year of lockdown has drained the city's once vibrant scene. It is about  time to renew this creative force. Culture needs to regain its central importance: as part of climate-smart and social urban redevelopment and as an educational building block for the city's residents inside and our guests.

The Corona bailout programs have forgotten a large part of our cultural scene. We stand in solidarity with these people and actively fight for concrete aid. We are launching a rescue plan for the entire cultural sector, with a focus on the independent scene, galleries and Berlin's club culture. An overall concept for the new start will be developed in a participatory manner with the active involvement of the sector. The needs of all professional groups must be taken into account.

In the future, the focus will not be on project-dependent funding, but on sustainable structural funding. Culture is system-relevant!

Previous chapter
Berlin mobilizes – car-free
Next chapter
Bringing Berlin together