A popular initiative was launched in Schleswig-Holstein on Friday against cuts in citizens’ petitions. To this end, opposition parties, environmental organizations and the Mehr Demokratie association have formed an alliance with a total of over 30 actors. The initiative collected its first signatures in front of Kiel City Hall.

At the end of March, the black-green majority in the state parliament decided on changes to local law with cuts in citizens’ petitions. The coalition stated that it wanted to speed up building permits for infrastructure projects such as schools, hospitals, residential buildings and wind turbines and give municipalities more planning security.

Citizens’ petitions against land use planning, for which a two-thirds majority was required in the local council, are now excluded. And requests against a decision by a local council must follow within three months. After massive criticism, black-green had removed even more far-reaching measures from the plans. The opposition accused the coalition of reducing democracy. The aim of the popular initiative, supported by the SPD and SSW state parliament parties, is to reverse the restrictions at community and district level.

The spokeswoman for Mehr Demokratie, Claudine Nierth, rejected Black-Green’s arguments. Rather, citizens’ requests and decisions create planning security. Now there will be more lawsuits that will hinder planning. Nierth criticized that the coalition’s decisions would make citizens’ initiatives more difficult and impossible. With the involvement of citizens in decisions, faster planning is possible than without them, said BUND state chairwoman Claudia Bielfeldt.

The popular initiative wants to collect the 20,000 signatures required by September 15 so that the state parliament can deal with their concerns. That would be the first step towards a possible referendum. SPD state chairwoman Serpil Midyatli is confident that the alliance will be successful.

Draft amendment CDU/Greens More democracy for citizens’ requests