Constitution of Berlin
On 8 June 1995 the Berlin House of Representatives adopted the following Constitution, and the people of Berlin consented to it in the referendum of 22 October 1995:
Resolving to protect the freedom and the rights of every individual, to afford democratic order to the community and the economy, and to serve the spirit of social progress and peace, Berlin, the capital of the united Germany, has adopted the following Constitution:
Section I: Fundamental Provisions
(1) Berlin is both a German Land and a city.
(2) Berlin is a Land of the Federal Republic of Germany.
(3) The Basic Law (Grundgesetz) and the laws of the Federal Republic of Germany shall be binding on Berlin.
Public authority shall be held by all German nationals domiciled in Berlin. They shall exercise their will according to this Constitution directly by electing Parliament and by vote, and indirectly through Parliament. Those provisions of this Constitution which afford to other residents of Berlin the right to participate in the state’s formation of will shall remain unaffected.
(1) Legislative power shall be implemented by vote and by Parliament. Executive power shall lie in the hands of the Government and of the administration, judicial power in the hands of independent courts.
(2) Parliament, government and administration, including the borough administrations, shall discharge the responsibilities of Berlin as a municipality, an association of municipalities and as a Land.
(1) Berlin shall consist of twelve boroughs. They shall comprise the former boroughs of
- Mitte, Tiergarten and Wedding,
- Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg,
- Prenzlauer Berg, Weißensee and Pankow,
- Charlottenburg and Wilmersdorf,
- Zehlendorf and Steglitz,
- Schöneberg and Tempelhof,
- Treptow and Köpenick,
- Marzahn and Hellersdorf,
- Lichtenberg and Hohenschönhausen,
(2) Any change of its territory shall be subject to consent by Parliament. The number and boundaries of the boroughs may only be changed subject to a law. A different procedure may be provided for by law in respect of minor boundary changes to which the boroughs concerned consent.
The flag, the coat of arms and the seal of Berlin shall show a bear. The colours of the flag shall be white and red.
Section II: Basic Rights; State Aims
The dignity of man shall be inviolable. To respect and protect it shall be the duty of all state authority.
Everybody shall have the right to the free development of his/her personality insofar as he/she does not violate the rights of others or offend against the constitutional order or against morality.
(1) Everybody shall have the right to life and physical integrity. The liberty of the individual shall be inviolable. Intrusion on these rights may only be made pursuant to a law.
(2) Every person arrested or detained shall be informed within 24 hours by what authority and on what grounds the deprivation of liberty was ordered. The next of kin shall have the right to be informed of the deprivation of liberty. At the request of the person arrested or detained, other persons shall also be informed without delay of the arrest or detention.
(3) Every person arrested or detained shall be taken before the competent judge within 48 hours, who shall decide on the arrest or detention.
(1) An accused person shall have the right to avail him/herself of the aid of counsel at every stage of the proceedings.
(2) An accused person shall be held innocent until convicted by a court.
(1) All persons shall be equal before the law.
(2) No one may be prejudiced or favoured because of sex, birth, race, language, national or social origin, faith, religious or political opinions or sexual orientation.
(3) Women and men shall have equal rights. The Land shall be obliged to create and safeguard equality and the equal participation of women and men in all fields of social life. Affirmative action shall be permissible in order to redress existing inequalities.
People with disabilities may not be prejudiced. The Land shall be obliged to ensure equal conditions for people with and without disabilities.
(1) Marriage and family shall enjoy the special protection of the state.
(2) Other living arrangements designed for permanence shall have a claim to protection against discrimination.
(3) The care and upbringing of children shall be a natural right of and a duty primarily incumbent on the parents.
(4) Children may not be separated from their families against the will of the persons entitled to bring them up save, in accordance with a law, in cases where those so entitled fail in their duties as parents or guardians.
(5) Those who bring up children or look after others in a domestic community deserve assistance.
(6) Every mother shall be entitled to the protection and care of the community.
(7) Women and men shall be enabled to make the bringing up of children and home care compatible with gainful employment and participation in public life. Single parents of both sexes, as well as women during pregnancy and after childbirth, shall have a claim to special protection in respect of employment.
(1) All children are entitled to develop their personalities, to be raised without violence, and to the special protection of the community against violence, neglect, and exploitation. The state shall respect, protect, and promote the rights of children as individual personalities and shall ensure that their living conditions are suitable for children.
(2) Children born outside marriage shall be provided by law with the same opportunities for their physical and mental development and for their place in society as are enjoyed by those born within marriage.
(1) Everybody shall have the right within the law to give free and public expression to his/her opinions as long as he/she does not threaten or violate the freedom guaranteed by the Constitution.
(2) Everybody shall have the right to inform him/herself of the opinions of others, especially also those of other peoples, from the press or news media of all kinds.
(3) There shall be no censorship.
(1) In the courts, everybody shall have the right to a hearing in accordance with the law.
(2) An act may be punished only if it constituted a criminal offence under the law applicable before the act was committed.
(3) Nobody may be punished for the same act more than once under general criminal law.
(4) Where a person’s rights are violated by public authority, he/she shall have recourse to the law. Insofar as no other jurisdiction has been established recourse shall be had to the courts of ordinary jurisdiction. para 2 second sentence of the Basic Law shall not be affected.
(5) Extraordinary courts shall not be permissible. No one may be removed from the jurisdiction of their lawful judge.
The privacy of correspondence, posts and telecommunications shall be inviolable.
The right of freedom of movement, in particular the freedom to choose a domicile, occupation or profession and place of work, shall be guaranteed, but shall be restricted by the obligation to help overcome public emergencies.
Everybody shall have the right to work. It shall be the responsibility of the Land to protect and promote this right. The Land shall contribute to creating and maintaining jobs and to ensuring a high level of employment within the framework of the macroeconomic equilibrium. If no employment can be provided, there shall be a claim to maintenance from public funds.
(1) Nobody may be prevented within the framework of valid legislation from exercising his/her civic rights or those of honorary public office, in particular not by their employment.
(2) Access to all public offices shall be open to everybody irrespective of origin, sex, political party and religious confession, provided that they are appropriately qualified and otherwise well-suited.
(1) Everybody shall have the right to education. The Land shall, on the basis of the law, provide and promote access to public education institutions for every person; initial vocational training shall be promoted in particular.
(2) The Land shall protect and promote cultural life.
Art and scholarship, research and teaching shall be free. Freedom of teaching shall not absolve from allegiance to the Constitution.
(1) The Land shall be obliged to implement social security as far as it is able. Social security should enable people to determine their own lives in dignity and on their own responsibility.
(2) The establishment and maintenance of facilities for guidance, care and nursing in old age, sickness, disability, invalidity and need of long-term care, as well as for other social and charitable purposes, shall be promoted by the state irrespective of their managing agencies.
(1) Property shall be guaranteed. Its substance and limits shall be determined by law.
(2) Expropriation shall only be permissible in the public interest pursuant to the law.
Any abuse of economic power shall be unlawful. In particular any private monopolies aimed at the domination of production and markets shall be deemed to constitute an abuse of economic power, and shall be prohibited.
The right of codetermination for wage-earning and salaried employees in the economy and the administrative apparatus shall be guaranteed by law.
All men and women shall have the right to assemble peacefully and unarmed for legally permissible purposes. In the case of outdoor assemblies, this right may be restricted by or pursuant to a law.
(1) All men and women shall have the right to form associations, partnerships and corporations. Associations may not pursue any purposes or take any measures through which the fulfilment of duties by constitutional organs and administrative bodies operating under public law is endangered.
(2) The right to strike shall be guaranteed.
(1) Everybody shall have the right to adequate housing. The Land shall promote the creation and maintenance of adequate housing, particularly for people on a low income, as well as private ownership of housing.
(2) The privacy of the home shall be inviolable. Searches may only be carried out on an order by a judge, or by the police if a person is pursued having been caught in the very act; such police measures shall be subject to approval by a judge within 48 hours.
(1) Freedom of faith and conscience, as well as freedom of creed, religious or ideological profession, shall be inviolable. The undisturbed practice of religion shall be guaranteed.
(2) Racist incitement and the manifestation of national or religious hatred contradict the spirit of the Constitution and shall be punishable.
(1) Acts tending to disturb the peaceful coexistence of peoples contradict the spirit of the Constitution and shall be punishable.
(2) Everybody shall have the right to refuse to render military service without incurring disadvantages.
(1) The environment and the natural basis of existence shall enjoy the special protection of the Land.
(2) Animals shall be respected as living creatures and protected against preventable suffering.
Sport is a part of life which is worthy of promotion and protection. Members of all sections of society shall be enabled to participate in sport.
The right of the individual to personally determine on principle the disclosure and use of his/her personal data shall be safeguarded. Any restriction of this right shall require legislation. This shall be permissible only in the predominant public interest.
Everybody shall have the right, individually or jointly with others, to address written requests, suggestions or complaints to the competent agencies, in particular the House of Representatives, the Senate, the Borough Assemblies or the Borough Offices.
(1) Sundays and public holidays shall be protected as days of rest.
(2) The First of May shall be a public holiday.
(1) The basic rights guaranteed by the Constitution shall be binding on the legislature, the administrative apparatus and the judiciary.
(2) Restrictions of the basic rights shall be permissible by law only insofar as they do not violate the fundamental idea enshrined in these rights.
(3) Everybody shall be entitled to resist when the basic rights laid down in the Constitution are patently violated.
Articles 14, 26 and 27 may not be invoked by persons who attack or jeopardise basic rights, and particularly not by anyone who pursues National Socialist or other totalitarian or bellicose aims.
Section III: Representation of the People
(1) The House of Representatives (Abgeordnetenhaus) shall be the representative body of the people elected by those German nationals entitled to vote.
(2) The House of Representatives shall consist of at least 130 Representatives.
(3) Opposition is an essential part of parliamentary democracy. It shall be entitled to equal political opportunities.
(4) The Members of the House of Representatives shall represent all Berliners. They shall not be bound by orders and instructions, and shall be subjected only to their consciences.
(1) The representatives shall be elected in general, equal, secret and direct elections.
(2) No seats shall be allotted to parties which poll less than five per cent of votes cast in the overall territory of Berlin unless a candidate of the party has won a seat in a constituency.
(3) All German nationals who have reached the age of eighteen by the date of the election and who have been domiciled in Berlin for at least three months shall be entitled to vote.
(4) Anybody entitled to vote who has reached the age of eighteen by the date of the election shall be eligible for election.
(5) All details, especially those regarding exclusion from the right to vote and from eligibility, as well as suspension of the right to vote, shall be subject to the Election Act (Wahlgesetz).
(1) An association of at least five per cent of the minimum number of representatives laid down in the Constitution shall constitute a parliamentary group. Details shall be subject to the Rules of Procedure.
(2) The parliamentary groups shall carry out constitutional responsibilities by directly using their own rights and responsibilities as independent and autonomous bodies of Parliament in cooperation with Parliament, and in helping form the will in Parliament. They shall be entitled to adequate resources in this respect. Details concerning the legal position and organisation, as well as the rights and responsibilities of parliamentary groups shall be subject to a law.
(1) The House of Representatives shall draw up its own Rules of Procedure.
(2) The House of Representatives shall elect the President of the House of Representatives, the Vice Presidents of the House of Representatives, as well as the other members of the Presidium, from among its members for the duration of the legislative period. For the election of the President and the Vice Presidents, each parliamentary group shall have the right of nomination in order of its relative strength. For the election of the rest of the members of the Presidium, each parliamentary group shall have the right to nominate at least one member and, additionally, as many other members as the group’s strength entitles it to. The d’Hondt highest-average formula shall be used to calculate the relative strengths of the parliamentary groups.
(3) The President shall exercise proprietary rights and police powers on the premises of Parliament. No search or seizure may take place on these premises without his/her permission.
(4) The President shall administer the economic affairs of the House of Representatives in accordance with the Budget Act (Haushaltsgesetz). He/she shall represent the House of Representatives in all matters. He/she shall be responsible for the appointment, employment and dismissal of civil servants, with and without life tenure, and wage-earners.
(1) The House of Representatives shall be convened by the President.
(2) Upon a motion by one fifth of its members, or of the Senate, the House of Representatives must be convened without delay.
(3) The sittings of the House of Representatives shall be open to the public.
(4) The public may be excluded upon a motion by one fifth of the representatives or of the Senate. The vote on the motion shall be debated and taken in camera.
(1) The House of Representatives shall be quorate if more than half of the elected members are present.
(2) The House of Representatives shall take decisions with a simple majority of votes unless the Constitution provides otherwise. A tie shall be tantamount to rejection. A different majority may be provided for by law or the Rules of Procedure for the elections to be held by the House of Representatives.
(1) The House of Representatives shall elect committees from among its midst as required. The committees shall on principle meet in open session.
(2) The members of the committees and their chairs shall be appointed on the basis of the principles of proportional representation and the d’Hondt figure. Independent Representatives shall have the right to work, but not to vote, on the committees.
(3) The House of Representatives shall have the right – and upon a motion by one-quarter of its members the obligation – to set up commissions of inquiry to prepare decisions on complex or important issues in a particular area of life. Some of their members shall also be experts appointed by the President of the House of Representatives at the proposal of the parliamentary groups, these experts not being members of the House of Representatives.
(4) The House of Representatives, the committees, and the commissions of inquiry can request information and reports from the Senate.
(5) Further details shall be regulated in the Rules of Procedure of the House of Representatives.
(1) The right of Representatives to participate in shaping opinion and in the decision-making process in the House of Representatives and the committees through speeches, interpellations and motions may not be precluded. The rights of individual Representatives may be restricted only to the extent required by the common exercise of membership in Parliament. The right to ask questions may be exercised in writing and in spontaneous questions during special question sessions. Written questions must be answered in writing by the Senate in principle within three weeks and may not be rejected solely on the basis of their complexity or scope. Details shall be regulated in the Rules of Procedure of the House of Representatives.
(2) Every Representative has the right to examine the administration’s files and other official documents. Access to the files may be denied if outweighed by the public interest, including core activities falling under executive responsibility, or by private interests preventing its disclosure. The Representative shall be given written notification and explanation of this decision. The right to examine the files and other official documents of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution is reserved for members of the bodies responsible for supervising the Office for the Protection of the Constitution pursuant to statutory provisions.
In order to protect the rights of citizens a committee of the House of Representatives shall be established which shall decide on petitions unless the House of Representatives decides itself. The Committee may also act if circumstances become known to it by any other means. The Senate and all authorities and administrative units subordinate to or supervised by it, as well as the courts, are bound to supply information. The same obligation applies to legal entities under private law, associations without legal personality, and individuals discharging public duties under the substantial control of Land Berlin. The Committee may hear and swear in witnesses and experts. Details shall be the subject of a law.
Article 46 a
The House of Representatives shall elect a Committee on the Protection of the Constitution from among its members. The parliamentary groups shall have the right to nominate the members of this committee in accordance with Art. 44 para 2 sentence 1.
(1) In order to protect the individual’s right to control the distribution of personal information, the House of Representatives shall elect a Data Protection Commissioner. He/she shall be appointed by the President of the House of Representatives and be subject to the latter’s disciplinary authority.
(2) Details shall be the subject of a law.
(1) The House of Representatives shall have the right and, upon a motion by one quarter of its members, the duty to set up a committee of investigation.
(2) Committees of investigation shall have the right to take evidence. They shall have the duty to do so if the applicants, or one fifth of the committee members, so request. The taking of evidence shall be inadmissible if it is not encompassed by the mandate of the investigation.
(3) Everybody shall be obliged to comply with the requests of the committee of investigation for the purpose of taking evidence. Courts and authorities shall be obliged to render legal and administrative assistance; when requested to do so, they shall be obliged to submit files and allow their employees to testify, unless precluded for reasons of security concerning the Federation or a German Land.
(4) Reports prepared by the committees of investigation shall not be subject to judicial review.
(5) The committee of investigation may, by means of a resolution, grant permission to the members of the Senate and their delegates to attend the meetings of the committee of investigation.
(6) All details shall be the subject of a law.
(1) The House of Representatives and its committees may require the presence of the members of the Senate.
(2) The Senate shall be invited to attend the meetings of the House of Representatives and its committees. At their request the members of the Senate shall be allowed to speak with reference to the items on the agenda.
(3) Before the House proceeds to the agenda, the Governing Mayor or his/her representative may address the meeting, irrespective of the subjects of discussion. Details shall be regulated by the Rules of Procedure of the House of Representatives.
(4) The opposition shall have the right of first reply in the cases covered by paras 2 and 3.
(5) During the meetings the members of the Senate shall be subject to the orders of the President of the House of Representatives or of the Chairman of the Committee.
Article 49 a
(1) The House of Representatives and the relevant committees may request information and reports from representatives of Land Berlin dispatched or elected by the House of Representatives or the Senate to serve in supervisory bodies or other bodies set up to oversee the actions of management of a legal entity under public law or a legal entity under private law discharging public duties under the substantial control of Land Berlin.
(2) Information that is confidential or must be kept secret shall be communicated to the relevant committee of the House of Representatives. The committee must ensure that the information it has been given, such as company secrets, is kept confidential or secret.
(3) Further details shall be regulated in the Rules of Procedure of the House of Representatives.
(1) The Senate shall inform the House of Representatives in good time and fully of all major projects falling within its competence. This shall also concern European Union matters to the extent that Land Berlin is involved in them. State Treaties shall be brought to the attention of the House of Representatives prior to their signing by the Senate. The conclusion of State Treaties shall require the consent of the House of Representatives.
(2) The Senate shall inform the House of Representatives regarding proposed Federal legislation and of European Union matters to the extent that it is involved in them.
(1) A Representative may at no time be subjected to court proceedings or disciplinary action or otherwise called to account outside the House of Representatives in respect of his/her vote cast or of a statement made in the exercise of his/her mandate. This shall not apply to defamatory insults.
(2) Every Representative shall have the right to refuse to provide information relating to persons who have confided information to him/her in his/her capacity as a Representative and to refuse to surrender documents handed to him/her in his/her capacity as a Representative.
(3) No Representative shall be placed under investigation or arrest without the permission of the House of Representatives unless he/she is apprehended in the act of committing the offence.
(4) Any detention of a Representative or other restriction on his/her personal freedom shall be suspended at the request of the House of Representatives.
Nobody shall be called to account for making truthful reports of the public meetings of the House of Representatives and of its committees.
(1) The Representatives shall receive adequate remuneration. All details shall be the subject of a law.
(2) In addition the Representatives shall be entitled to use, free of charge, all public transport owned by Berlin.
(1) Notwithstanding the provision laid down in para 5, the House of Representatives shall be elected for a period of four years. Its legislative period shall begin with the first meeting of the House of Representatives. Re-election shall take place at the earliest 46 months and at the latest 48 months after the beginning of the legislative period.
(2) The House of Representatives may decide with a majority of two thirds of its members to terminate the legislative period prematurely.
(3) The legislative period may also be prematurely terminated by a referendum.
(4) In the event of premature termination of the legislative period, re-election shall take place at the latest eight weeks after the resolution is taken by the House of Representatives or the notification of the result of the referendum.
(5) The legislative period shall terminate with the meeting of the newly elected House of Representatives. The House of Representatives shall convene under the chairmanship of the oldest Representative, at the latest six weeks after the election.
Section IV: The Government
(1) The functions of government shall be exercised by the Senate.
(2) The Senate shall consist of the Governing Mayor and a maximum of ten other Senate members.
(1) The Governing Mayor shall be elected by an absolute majority of the members of the House of Representatives. If no absolute majority is achieved on the first ballot, a second ballot shall take place. If this, too, fails to achieve an absolute majority, the person who receives the most votes on a third ballot shall be elected.
(2) The Senators shall be appointed and removed by the Governing Mayor. Two Senators shall be appointed by the Governing Mayor to serve as his/her deputies (Mayors).
(3) The members of the Senate may resign from office at any time. The term of office of all the members of the Senate ends when the Governing Mayor’s tenure ends. The Governing Mayor and, at his/her request, the other members of the Senate shall be obliged to carry on their duties until their successors have taken office.
(1) The Governing Mayor shall require the confidence of the House of Representatives.
(2) The House of Representatives may withdraw its confidence from the Governing Mayor. The roll-call vote may be held at the earliest 48 hours after the motion of no confidence has been announced in the House of Representatives.
(3) The resolution regarding a motion of no confidence shall require the consent of the majority of the elected members of the House of Representatives. If a motion of no confidence is carried, the Governing Mayor shall resign at once. The vote of no confidence shall become ineffective unless a new ballot is held within 21 days.
(1) The Governing Mayor shall represent Berlin externally. He/she shall preside over the Senate and chair its meetings. In the event of a tie he/she shall have the casting vote.
(2) The Governing Mayor shall determine government policy guidelines. These shall be subject to the approval of the House of Representatives.
(3) The Governing Mayor shall monitor compliance with government policy guidelines; he/she shall have the right to demand information regarding all official business.
(4) The Senate shall lay down its own Rules of Procedure.
(5) Within the guidelines laid down by government policy, each member of the Senate shall run his/her department independently and on his/her own responsibility. The Senate shall decide on divergent opinions, or upon the application of the Governing Mayor.
Section V: Legislation
(1) The orders and prohibitions binding upon all must be based on the law.
(2) Draft Bills may be presented by Members of the House of Representatives, by the Senate or by a petition for a referendum.
(3) The public shall be informed of proposed legislation. Draft Senate Bills shall be communicated to the House of Representatives at the latest at the time when the affected sections of the population are informed.
(4) Every Bill must be read and debated in the House of Representatives in at least two readings. In general, a preparatory debate on the competent committee shall take place in the period between the two readings.
(5) A third reading shall be held at the request of the President of the House of Representatives or of the Senate.
(1) Bills shall be passed by the House of Representatives with a simple majority, unless the Constitution provides otherwise.
(2) Bills shall be signed by the President of the House of Representatives without delay and then promulgated by the Governing Mayor within two weeks.
(3) Each Bill and legal ordinance shall specify the day on which it is to enter into effect. In the absence of such specification, it shall enter into force at the end of the fourteenth day after its promulgation.
(1) All residents of Berlin shall have the right to bring to the House of Representatives certain Berlin-related subjects of the political formation of will that lie within its decision-making competence. The initiative must be signed by 20,000 Berlin residents of at least sixteen years of age. Its representatives shall have the right to be heard on the competent committees.
(2) Details shall be the subject of a law.
(1) Petitions for a referendum may be aimed at making, amending or rescinding laws as long as the legislative competence lies with Land Berlin. They may also be aimed at passing other resolutions on policy issues affecting Berlin and under the jurisdiction of the House of Representatives. Only one petition for a referendum on any one subject shall be admissible within one legislative period.
(2) Petitions for a referendum relating to the state Budget Act, official salaries and pensions, charges, fees levied by municipal corporations, as well as personnel-related decisions, shall be inadmissible.
(3) The draft Bill or other resolution on which the petition for a referendum is based shall be submitted to the House of Representatives by the Senate together with a statement of its point of view as soon as proof of the necessary support for the petition for a referendum has been furnished. At the request of the representatives of the petition, the referendum must be held if the House of Representatives has not adopted the draft Bill or other resolution proposed by the petition unchanged in its essential contents within four months.
(4) If a petition for a referendum has been successful, a referendum must be held within four months. This deadline may be extended to as much as eight months if that would enable the referendum to be conducted at the same time as an election or other referenda. The House of Representatives may put its own version of a draft Bill or other resolution to a vote at the same time. The referendum shall not be held if the House of Representatives adopts the draft Bill or other resolution proposed by the petition unchanged in its essential contents.
(5) The President of the House of Representatives shall sign the Bill brought about by the referendum; the Governing Mayor shall promulgate it in the Berlin Gazette (Gesetz und Verordnungsblatt für Berlin).
(6) Petitions for a referendum may also be aimed at premature termination of the legislative period of the House of Representatives.
(1) A petition for a referendum on a draft Bill or other resolution pursuant to Art. 62 para 1 requires as proof of support the signatures of at least 20,000 people entitled to vote in elections for the House of Representatives. A referendum must be held if at least seven percent of the people entitled to vote in House of Representatives elections agree to the petition within four months. A law or other resolution pursuant to Art. 62 para 1 shall be deemed to have been adopted by a referendum if a majority of those voting and at least one-fourth of those entitled to vote in House of Representative elections cast their vote in favour of the law or resolution.
(2) A petition for a referendum on a draft Bill that would amend the Constitution requires as proof of support the signatures of at least 50,000 people entitled to vote in elections for the House of Representatives. A referendum must be held if at least one-fifth of the people entitled to vote in House of Representatives elections agree to the petition within four months. A law amending the Constitution shall be deemed to have been adopted by a referendum if a majority of at least two-thirds and at least half of those entitled to vote in House of Representatives elections cast their votes in favour of the law.
(3) A referendum aimed at premature termination of the legislative period of the House of Representatives requires as proof of support the signatures of at least 50,000 people entitled to vote in elections for the House of Representatives. A referendum must be held if at least one-fifth of the people entitled to vote in House of Representatives elections agree to the petition within four months. The referendum shall become effective only if at least half of those entitled to vote cast their votes, with a majority in favour of early termination.
(4) Details concerning petitions for a referendum and relating to referenda, including the publication of the proposal on which the referendum is based, shall be the subject of a law.
(1) The Senate, or a member of the Senate, may be authorised by a law to issue legal ordinances. The content, purpose and extent of the authorisation issued must be set out in the law. The legal basis must be referred to in the legal ordinance.
(2) In order to establish zoning plans and landscape plans, the boroughs may be authorised by a law to issue legal ordinances. The authorisation may also cover other building-law activities which, according to Federal legislation, are to be regulated by statutes, as well as nature conservation legislation banning changes. This shall not apply to areas of outstanding urban policy importance. Details shall be the subject of a law.
(3) The House of Representatives shall be notified without delay of the legal ordinances under para 1. Administrative ordinances shall be submitted to the House of Representatives upon request.
(1) With the establishment of uniform conditions in Berlin, legal provisions which previously were valid only in parts of Land Berlin shall be replaced by legal provisions which are valid throughout the Land.
(2) Inasmuch as previous legal provisions address competences which cannot be easily attributed to a specific constitutional body, these shall devolve on the Senate; the House of Representatives may decide otherwise.
Section VI: The Administrative Apparatus
(1) The administrative apparatus shall be organised in an unbureaucratic manner and in a democratic and social spirit in accordance with the Constitution and the law.
(2) The boroughs shall be afforded a share of administration in accordance with the principles of self-government.
(1) The Senate shall take care of those matters via the central administrative apparatus which are of importance for the city as a whole, or which urgently require uniform execution because of their specific nature.
(2) The boroughs shall assume all other administrative tasks. The Senate may issue guidelines and general administrative provisions relating to the activities of the boroughs. It shall supervise their application and the lawfulness of the administrative apparatus.
(3) The detailed delimitation of spheres of competence must be the subject of a law. By law, Senate tasks may be delegated to the boroughs for implementation under specialist supervision.
(4) The Senate shall be authorised to delegate additional individual tasks to the boroughs for implementation under specialist supervision. Civil servants in the borough administrations may be called upon to supervise schools.
(5) Individual borough tasks may be exercised by one or several boroughs.
(1) The borough administrations shall be afforded the opportunity to comment on fundamental questions of administration and legislation.
(2) For this purpose joint discussions between the Governing Mayor and the Mayor with the Borough Mayors or deputy Borough Mayors as representatives of the Borough Offices (Council of Mayors) shall be held at regular intervals, at least once a month.
(3) All details shall be regulated by the Administration Act (Gesetz über die Verwaltung).
A Borough Assembly (Bezirksverordnetenversammlung) shall be elected in each borough. It shall elect the members of the Borough Offices. Details shall be the subject of a law.
(1) The Borough Assembly shall be elected at the same time as the House of Representatives in a general, equal, secret and direct election. All German nationals who have reached the age of 16 by the day of the election, are domiciled in the borough in question, and have been domiciled in Berlin for at least three months are entitled to vote. Nationals of another Member State of the European Union shall also be entitled to vote and eligible for election under the same conditions as German nationals. All details shall be the subject of the Election Act.
(2) The Borough Assembly shall consist of 55 members. No seats shall be allotted to parties receiving less than three percent of the votes cast.
The legislative period of the Borough Assemblies shall also end on expiry of the legislative period of the House of Representatives.
The Borough Assembly shall be a body of the borough’s self-government; it shall supervise the administration of the borough and decide on the budget of the borough, as well as taking decisions in matters assigned to it.
(1) The Borough Assembly shall set up committees to assist in implementing its tasks.
(2) Once more detailed legal provisions have been made, the committees may also comprise citizen deputies (Bürgerdeputierte), in addition to the Members of the Borough Assembly. The citizen deputies shall be elected by the Borough Assembly; they shall hold honorary positions.
(1) The Borough Office shall be composed of the Borough Mayor and the Borough Councillors (Bezirksstadträte), one of whom shall be simultaneously elected Deputy Borough Mayor. Borough Councillors shall be nominated by the parliamentary groups according to their relative strength in the Borough Assembly, which will be calculated using the d’Hondt highest-average formula. Irrespective of the overall composition of the Borough Office, joint nominations by several parliamentary groups for the election of a Borough Mayor shall be regarded as nominations by one parliamentary group. Details shall be the subject of a law.
(2) The Borough Office shall be the administrative authority of the borough; it shall represent Berlin in matters concerning its borough.
(1) The borough administration shall be organised in accordance with a law.
(2) The Borough Mayor shall be subject to the authority of the Governing Mayor. The Borough Mayor shall exercise service supervision over the members of the Borough Office. Each member of the Borough Office shall run his/her department on his/her own responsibility. Divergent opinions among members of the Borough Office shall be settled by the Borough Office.
The Borough Assembly may dismiss a member of the Borough Office with a two-thirds majority of the members of the Borough Assembly before expiry of his/her term of office. Details shall be the subject of a law.
(1) All appointments, transfers and dismissals in the public service shall be carried out by the Senate. This right shall be transferred to the Borough Offices with respect to the boroughs.
(2) If the parties concerned cannot agree the Senate shall decide on transfers from one borough to another, from the central administration to a borough administration, or vice versa, after hearing the parties concerned. For the purpose of a general balance of staff in the Berlin administrative apparatus, the Senate may also overturn an agreement between the parties concerned, after hearing them.
Section VII: Administration of Justice
The administration of justice shall be carried out in the spirit of this Constitution and of social understanding.
(1) Judicial power shall be exercised in the name of the people by independent courts subject only to the law.
(2) Men and women shall be given a share in the administration of justice regardless of their social background and in accordance with the legal provisions.
Judges shall be bound by the law.
The right of pardon shall be exercised by the Senate. In cases to be determined by law it shall hear the Pardons Committee to be elected by the House of Representatives. The Senate may delegate its authority to the competent member of the Senate.
(1) Professional judges shall be appointed by the Senate if their personality and prior work in the administration of justice can be taken as a guarantee that they will exercise their office in the spirit of the Constitution and of social justice. The elected highest judges shall have a right of proposal for their sphere of office.
(2) The Presidents of the Higher Regional Courts shall be elected by the House of Representatives upon the proposal of the Senate, with a majority of its members, and appointed by the Senate.
(3) Jurisdictions and procedures deviating from those described under para 1 and 2 can be determined by State Treaty in the case of courts shared by the federal state of Berlin and other federal states.
(1) A Constitutional Court shall be formed consisting of nine members (one President, one Vice President and seven Constitutional Court judges) three of whom must be professional judges at the time of their election, and three others of whom must be qualified to hold the office of judge. The members of the Constitutional Court shall be elected by a two-thirds majority of the House of Representatives.
(2) The Constitutional Court shall rule
- on the interpretation of the Constitution of Berlin in disputes concerning the scope of the rights and obligations of a supreme Land body or of other parties concerned which have been vested with rights of their own by the Constitution of Berlin or by the Rules of Procedure of the House of Representatives,
- in case of divergent opinions, or of doubt concerning the formal or material compatibility of Land legislation with the Constitution of Berlin, at the request of the Senate, or of one quarter of the members of the House of Representatives,
- at the request of a borough in case of divergent opinions or of doubt as to the compatibility of the delimitation of the spheres of competence regulated by law between the central administrative apparatus and the boroughs with the Constitution of Berlin,
- in cases delegated to the jurisdiction of the Land Constitutional Courts in accordance with Article 100 para 1 of the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany, on complaints of unconstitutionality where no such complaint has been or is to be lodged with the Federal Constitutional Court,
- on other cases conferred on it by law.
(3) Details shall be the subject of an Act on the Constitutional Court (Gesetz über den Verfassungsgerichtshof).
Section VIII: Finance
(1) All revenue and expenditure shall be assessed in the budget for every fiscal year; it shall be determined by a law (the Budget Act). An assessment and determination for a longer period of time and, in specific exceptional cases, proof of extrabudgetary revenue and expenditure may be admitted by law.
(2) Each borough shall be allocated a lump sum to fulfil its tasks in the framework of the Budget Act. When determining these lump sums for the borough budget plans, a fair balance must be achieved among the boroughs. At the end of each year, the final results obtained shall be added to the lump sum for the following year’s borough budgets.
(1) The Budget Act shall form the basis for the administration of all revenue and expenditure.
(2) Budget funds must only be used insofar as this is required by economical administration.
(3) Budget management must be based on a five-year financial plan. The financial plan shall be submitted to the House of Representatives at the latest together with the draft Budget Act for the following financial year.
(1) The Senate may not impose either taxes or levies nor raise loans or provide securities without a legal basis.
(2) Loans may be raised only if other funds for cover are not available. Revenue from loans may not exceed the total investment expenditure provided for in the budget estimates; exceptions shall be permissible only to avert a disturbance of macroeconomic equilibrium. Details shall be the subject of law.
(1) Extrabudgetary expenditure shall require the consent of the Senate in the case of an unforeseen and compelling necessity.
(2) The subsequent consent of the House of Representatives is to be obtained for extrabudgetary expenditure.
(3) A ruling of the House of Representatives is to be obtained in the event that the Senator in charge of finance raises an objection to an item of extrabudgetary expenditure.
(4) Corresponding regulations may be made by law concerning extrabudgetary expenditure in the boroughs.
(1) In the event that the budget estimates have not yet been determined by the beginning of the new financial year, the Senate shall be authorised to set up provisional regulations so that indispensable expenditure can be effected to maintain existing institutions, to comply with statutory tasks and legal obligations, to continue building projects and maintain the proper functioning of the administrative apparatus. The Borough Office shall be authorised to issue supplementary regulations in respect of the borough budget.
(2) To the extent that revenue from taxes, charges and other sources based on specific legislation or the working capital reserves do not cover the expenditure referred to in para 1, the Senate may borrow the funds needed to sustain budget management, up to a maximum of one quarter of the total amount of the preceding budget estimates.
(1) Bills and motions relating to measures which entail a reduction of revenue or an increase of expenditure with respect to the budget shall be debated in the House of Representatives in two readings with, as a rule, an interval of 48 hours.
(2) The resolutions shall contain regulations regarding cover.
The members of the Senate and of the Borough Offices, as well as other members of the public service who violate the financial provisions contained in the Constitution, and in doing so incur guilt, shall be held liable for the damage resulting therefrom. There shall, however, be no obligation to pay damages if the action was carried out to avert an unforeseeable imminent danger, and provided the violation of the provisions did not exceed the extent required by the emergency.
The organisation, administration, economic management and accounts of those Berlin-owned corporations without legal capacity (Eigenbetriebe) shall be the subject of a law. Accounting shall be organised in such a way that current management and its results can be clearly understood.
(1) The conversion of Berlin-owned corporations and of individual plants of unimpaired value to judicial entities shall require a decision to be taken by the House of Representatives.
(2) The sale of property shall be regulated by law.
(1) In the course of the first nine months of the following fiscal year, the Senate shall submit a statement of accounts to the House of Representatives covering all revenue and expenditure of the budgetary management, as well as assets and debts.
(2) After the audit of the budget and the assets accounts by the Court of Audit, the House of Representatives shall vote on the discharge of the Senate. It shall decide on measures to be initiated, and may expressly voice its disapproval of certain circumstances.
(1) The Court of Audit is an independent supreme Land authority subject only to the law. Its members shall enjoy the same independence as judges.
(2) The Court of Audit shall be chaired by a president. He/she shall be elected by the House of Representatives with the majority of its members at the proposal of the Senate and appointed for life by the President of the House of Representatives. The President of the Court of Audit shall be subject to the service supervision of the President of the Berlin House of Representatives.
(3) The Court of Audit shall review the accounts (Article 94) and determine whether Berlin’s public finances as a whole have been properly and efficiently administered. It shall submit an annual report on this to the House of Representatives, and shall inform the Senate at the same time.
(4) The House of Representatives and the Senate may request the Court of Audit to investigate matters of particular importance and report on them.
(5) Details shall be the subject of a law.
Section IX: Transitional and Final Provisions
Berlin and other Länder may establish joint authorities, courts of law or bodies, institutions and foundations operating under public law. Such an agreement shall require the consent of the House of Representatives. Joint authorities or bodies may be established with Land Brandenburg or individual regional bodies of this Land to which individual powers of regional and land use planning may be assigned by law. The provisions of the Federal Building Code (Baugesetzbuch) and the Regional Planning Act (Raumordnungsgesetz) shall remain unaffected.
(1) Land Berlin may form a joint Land with Land Brandenburg.
(2) A State Treaty between Land Berlin and Land Brandenburg relating to the formation of a joint Federal Land shall require the consent of a two-thirds majority of the House of Representatives, as well as consent by referendum in accordance with this State Treaty.
(3) The State Treaty may provide that
- individual powers of the House of Representatives and the Senate may be delegated to joint committees and bodies of the two Länder,
- the legislative period of the House of Representatives and the term of office of the Senate shall terminate with the formation of a joint Land.
(4) The rights of the House of Representatives shall remain unaffected.
(5) Details governing the referendum shall be the subject of a State Treaty.
The legal provisions regarding liberation from National Socialism and militarism, as well as the removal of their consequences, shall not be affected by the provisions of this Constitution.
Until the end of the 13th legislative period of the House of Representatives, the Borough Offices shall, on the basis of the election proposals of the parliamentary groups, be formed in accordance with the d’Hondt figure, which forms the basis for calculating the proportional representation of the parties in the Borough Assembly. Irrespective of the overall composition of the Borough Offices, joint nomination by several parliamentary groups for the election of the Borough Mayor shall be regarded as nominations by one parliamentary group. Details shall be the subject of a law.
Article 99 a
(1) The boroughs created by combining previously existing boroughs in the 14th legislative period of the Berlin House of Representatives shall be constituted on 1 January 2001.
(2) In the 14th legislative period of the Berlin House of Representatives, the Borough Assembly of a new borough composed of two previously existing boroughs shall consist of 69 members, and of 89 members in a new borough composed of three previously existing boroughs. This Borough Assembly shall convene for the first time in October 2000 and elect the new Borough Office, whose term in office shall begin on 1 January 2001. The Borough Assembly shall be composed of the Borough Assemblies of the previous boroughs. The number of members contributed by each of these to the new Borough Assembly is based on the previous boroughs’ share, out of the total number of members to which the Borough Assembly of the new borough is entitled, of the number of eligible voters in the new borough at the time of the election to the 14th legislative period of the House of Representatives. The members of the Borough Assemblies of the previous boroughs shall be at the same time members of the Borough Assemblies of the new boroughs. The term in office of the previous boroughs’ Borough Assemblies shall end at midnight of 31 December 2000.
(3) In the previous boroughs being combined to form new boroughs, Borough Office members in office at the beginning of the 14th legislative period of the Berlin House of Representatives shall remain in office until midnight of 31 December 2000. Dismissal pursuant to Article 76 shall be permitted only for important reasons. A by-election before 31 December 2000 shall be possible only if the previously existing Borough Office consists of less than three members.
(4) The Borough Offices and Borough Assemblies of the previous boroughs being combined to form new boroughs shall prepare the merger and consolidate the organisation of their borough administrations.
(5) Details shall be the subject of a law.
Amendments to the Constitution shall require a two-thirds majority of the elected members of the House of Representatives. If the amendment to the Constitution concerns Articles 62 and 63, a referendum shall also be required.
(1) Unless provided otherwise in para 2 this Constitution shall enter into effect, after approval in a referendum, on the day following its promulgation in the Berlin Gazette. At the same time the Constitution of Berlin dated 1 September 1950 (Berlin Gazette [VOBl.] Part I p. 433), last amended by the Act dated 8 June 1995 (Berlin Gazette p. 339), shall cease to apply.
(2) Article 99 shall enter into effect at the beginning of the 13th legislative period of the Berlin House of Representatives.
(3) Article 55 para 2 shall not apply to the Senate in office at the time this Constitution comes into effect.