What are some examples of freedom of petition

The online petition

What is a petition?

Everyone has the right, individually or in association with others, to address requests or complaints in writing to the competent authorities and to the parliament.

This is what it says in Article 17 of the German Basic Law. A petition is a concern in the form of a request or a complaint to the responsible administration or authority. The right of petition in Germany and the EU enables citizens to submit a petition at any level of political administration. The recipient of the petition must confirm receipt of the petition, examine it objectively and make a decision as to how far the request can be met. Petitions can also address companies, organizations or individuals (citizens) and thus draw the public's attention to a specific topic. More information: What does a petition mean?

What is an online petition?

Online petitions are a relatively new tool for participation. They can basically be divided into private petitions and public petitions:

I. Private petitions that are submitted online but not publicly listed. Example: Individual petitions that are submitted to a petitions committee at federal or state level using the online form. Several individual petitions with the same or similar concern are combined by the Bundestag into a multiple petition.

II. Public petitions that can be submitted online and listed publicly. They can be created and published on openPetition, the portal of the Bundestag (ePetionen), portals of the petition committees of some federal states (e.g. Thuringia or Bremen) and some campaign platforms. They can then be submitted online or offline to the respective recipient. Example: collective petitions or mass petitions that are created online via an online form at the Bundestag, the state parliaments, openPetition or other platforms and can then be signed by online supporters in order to give more emphasis to the petition issue.

What is the difference between an openPetition and an ePetition?

openPetitions and ePetitions are both petition systems that enable a public collection of online signatures for a collective petition to the German Bundestag. An online petition that runs on the petition system of the German Bundestag is called ePetition. An online petition that runs on the openPetition petition system is called openPetition or simply Petition. The difference is that ePetitions are first submitted to the Bundestag and then the subscription period begins, whereas with openPetition the subscription period runs first and then the signatures are then submitted in writing to the Bundestag as a collective petition. According to a decision by the members of the Bundestag Petitions Committee in 2011, online signatures collected on openPetition are not recognized for the calculation of the hearing quorum. This means that anyone who collects more than 50,000 signatures on openPetition does not automatically get a public hearing before the petitions committee. For further differences & advantages of openPetition compared to an ePetition: Petition platforms.

openPetition: achieve quorum - submit concerns to parliament - request opinion

Are online petitions legally binding?

The right of petition is laid down in Article 17 of the German Basic Law and thus retains its effectiveness for online petitions as well. The various procedural bases of the petition committees, which are laid down in the respective statutes, ordinances or rules of procedure, apply to the formal criteria of a petition - regardless of whether offline or online. The latter clarifies which conditions and requirements a petition must meet in order to be recognized as legally binding. In general, the bureaucratic hurdles for this are quite low.

How is the forgery of signatures prevented?

Naturally, the identity of an online signature cannot be proven. However, there are technical possibilities to rule out misuse as far as possible - e.g. by confirming the online signature via an e-mail link. As with a real signature list, it is the responsibility of the recipient of the list to check the legitimacy of the signatures on a random basis or in full. Experience has shown that with signature lists on paper, up to 10% of the signatures are invalid.

How many signatories do you need to successfully complete an (online) petition?

You can always submit a petition, no matter how many supporters join it. Whether or not a petition is approved in the end depends less on the number of supporters and more on the elected representatives in a petitions committee. You decide on a petition. More supporters help to increase the pressure on decision-makers to publicly discuss and decide on an issue.

Is there a difference to a referendum / referendum?

Collections of signatures with which a referendum or referendum is enforced must (at the moment) be handwritten. They have different formal steps and requirements than petitions. Due to the high organizational and financial effort involved in collecting handwritten signatures for a referendum or referendum, it is therefore helpful to test the response to your own concerns in advance with an online petition and to build up a group of supporters.

Suggestions for improvement, error messages or spelling mistakes?

Please send an email to [email protected] with the subject: "Bug: ..." and a note on where the error occurred (URL, screenshot) or your notes.