Section III: Representation of the People

Article 38

(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.

Article 39

(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).

Article 40

(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.

Article 41

(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.

Article 42

(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.

Article 43

(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.

Article 44

(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.

Article 45

(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.

Article 46

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.

Article 47

(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.

Article 48

(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.

Article 49

(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.

Article 50

(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.

Article 51

(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.

Article 52

Nobody shall be called to account for making truthful reports of the public meetings of the House of Representatives and of its committees.

Article 53

(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.

Article 54

(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.