By a Huge Margin, Berlin Votes to Expropriate Corporate Landlords

B.erlin—The election results on Sunday in Germany made one thing clear: politics here will be much more chaotic. After years of Merkel’s balanced, centrist rule at the head of a grand coalition of the center-right CDU and the center-left SPD, the Bundestag elections made the SPD strive to form a viable coalition on the left. But while most of the international news coverage either complained about Merkel’s departure or attempted to do so complex coalition negotiations Confrontation with Olaf Scholz from the SPD there was another impressive victory in Berlin. After years of campaigning by left-wing activists, residents of the German capital voted in a referendum against the skyrocketing housing costs to dispossess more than 240,000 condominiums. The campaign with the pointed name “Expropriate Deutsche Wohnen & Co“(Expropriation of Deutsche Wohnen and Co.), had defied negative surveys, warnings from business leaders and the resistance of major political parties and won a decisive victory of 56.4 to 39 percent in Berlin.

The mood at the election night party in a former film studio complex in Tempelhof was exuberant. Growing from a core group of left activists to an intergenerational, multi-ethnic coalition fed up with the city’s inability to curb rising rents, the campaign had expected a nail-biter. Instead, as the results trickled in from across town, it became clear that the measure not only passed, but healthy majorities in 10 of the 12 Berlin districts. How could this radically decried proposal for the expropriation of large landowners find such comprehensive support?

Political math doesn’t fit. The measure, supported by the Left Party and only cautiously supported by the Greens, far exceeded that of the two parties Support level. While the DW Enteigen campaign may hope the victory may point to greater support for the decommodification of housing from speculative real estate markets, the timely campaign has undoubtedly sparked populist anger among Berliners, whose average rents have risen over the past decade despite repeated political attempts of the city have doubled to keep costs down. That around 85 percent of Berlin’s tenants are – one of the highest rates in the world– Agrees a broader constituency on an issue that in many cities is seen as a marginalized concern of the working class.

But regardless of whether the voters were ideological statements or one-off protest votes, “there is a clear mandate to act”, as campaign spokesman Rouzbeh Taheri a press conference on Monday. “We can talk about the ‘how’ of socialization, but not about whether or not.” The actual implementation of the proposal will, however, be left to the new Berlin Senate and its newly elected mayor Francisca Giffey Party, the center-left SPD, had spoken out against the campaign.

DW Expropriate has already gone on the offensive. After the dismayed victory of the expropriation proposal, Giffey admitted that “such a bill must now be drawn up”, but restricted that “this draft must then also be examined under constitutional law”. In response, the campaign was launched tweeted“We are not counting on #Giffey to respect the result of our referendum,” and called for continued pressure from the grassroots on the new mayor.


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