No fear of lousy rating: The Greens in parliament see the petition for a referendum against Deutsche Wohnen & Co. as "a great opportunity".
Have so far disagreed on expropriation: Greens Ramona Pop (l.) and Antje Kapek Photo: dpa
At least in the House of Representatives, the Greens have made up their minds on where they stand on the "Expropriate Deutsche Wohnen & Co." referendum. "I see the referendum as a great opportunity and a sharp sword that we must use," said their spokeswoman on all housing and rental policy issues, Katrin Schmidberger. The occasion was a debate about the announcement of the rating agency Moody’s to lower Berlin’s credit rating because of the expropriation debate. An FDP motion to force the SPD parliamentary group to commit to new construction instead of expropriation, as demanded by the Social Democrats, came to nothing.
On 6. April, the initiators of the referendum want to start collecting the 20,000 signatures needed in the first stage. This is considered a formality in view of the declining but still high level of support among the population, according to surveys. In the second stage, 175,000 signatures are needed to force a referendum.
The start of the collection coincides with the state party conference of the Greens. However, there has been no motion on expropriation there so far. The attitude of the Greens in parliament has so far fluctuated between well-meaning statements by parliamentary group leader Antje Kapek and critical views by Economics Senator Ramona Pop, who is also a member of parliament. She warned against "using the word expropriation lightly. On Thursday, Pop herself did not speak on the matter and did not look particularly happy on the Senate bench during the debate and the pro-expropriation statement of her parliamentary group colleague Schmidberger.
Already a week before the Greens, the SPD comes together for the party conference. It apparently wants to postpone a determination, which a motion in favor of the popular petition demands, to the second party conference of the year in October. This does not hurt, they say, because the petition for a referendum will only enter its important phase after that.
In parliament, CDU, AfD and FDP branded expropriation expectedly, among other things, as "poison for the necessary housing" and "greatest accident to be assumed" – as more exciting was considered, how the SPDler would behave. "This is still a very difficult, serious legal issue that has not yet been discussed to the end," said their deputy Torsten Schneider, who classified a rent cap as a milder means.
The FDP motion entitled "New construction instead of expropriation!" was aimed at him and his 37 faction colleagues. Because new construction, as was once again heard from the SPD side, had top priority. And in mid-February, state and government leader Michael Muller had clearly distanced himself from expropriation: "That is not my way and not my policy." Whether it was because Muller could not come to parliament until later? In any case, all SPD members rejected the FDP motion.