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Are you still being ruled or are you already governing yourself? Are you still being ruled or are you already governing yourself?
by Newropeans-Magazine
2011-11-29 07:17:31
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Wirst du noch regiert oder verwaltest du dich schon selbst?

Baden-Württemberg, for the first time in its history, will have a state-wide referendum on 27.11.2011. The question, about which the citizens will decide, is, whether Baden-Württemberg stops its financing of the underground station “Stuttgart 21”. Not part of the referendum is the high-speed connection between Stuttgart and Munich.

From a European perspective it seems to be good to modernize infrastructure, so why then have the progressive forces1 in Baden-Württemberg formed an alliance called “Ja zum Ausstieg” (Yes to opting out)?

- Stuttgart is not an important node in the European network: the north-south axis goes via the Rhine valley and east-west connections are via Frankfurt. By pouring billions of Euros into a single project for a new underground station, the really needed projects are postponed or cancelled. It is a European scandal, that Germany is not fulfilling its contracts with Switzerland to complete the Gotthard-tunnel by an expansion of the capacity of the tracks along the Rhine or not expanding the connections to the harbor of Hamburg.

- The alliance is not against the high-speed track between Stuttgart and Ulm (leading towards Munich). Such a track (if it’s ever built) can be connected to the existing Stuttgart station for much less money, which according to the latest reports2 has much more capacities and potential as a non-expandable underground station.

The project started with the privatization of “Deutsche Bahn” (the German railway is still state-owned, but has now the form of a private company, run by managers coming from the automobile and airline industry). Those managers got into their hands a lot of real estate (the ground of the tracks and stations, the station-buildings) and saw this not as a means to serve their customers, but to maximize the profit of their company. Who has ever traveled by train in Germany knows that this is no basis for a sustainable public transport.

The project “Stuttgart 21” was initiated in 1994 and the opposition against the project started the next year3. Since then the people of Stuttgart went through an immense learning process. They learned how their politicians function, they learned how they had to organize their cause and they basically learned that they had to take the case into their own hands. The child of this learning process was “Kopfbahnhof 21”, a campaign for a modernization of the existing station. In this process, the people of Stuttgart, simple people and professionals, engineers, architects, railway people and artists gathered a wealth of information and arguments4. Today a citizen on the streets of Stuttgart knows more about railway construction, than any Deutsche Bahn manager.5 The motto of Stuttgart is “Oben bleiben” (stay up) and the “Montagsdemostrationen” (Monday demonstrations)6 are happening every Monday since two years, number 100 will be on 21.11.2011. The people are defending their city, their living space, with what was not destroyed by the allied bombing in World War II and a beautiful park with old trees, they want to be the ones, who develop the city and not leave this to the people, who only see money and the exploitation of the city and its people.

Everybody agrees or has to admit, that “Stuttgart 21” is really a real estate project and not an infrastructure project, traveling faster from Stuttgart to Munich has never been the primary aim.7 By putting the station underground, the plots on the surface can be turned into money. Interesting enough, “Deutsche Bahn” got rid of the risk of this business8, as they managed to sell all the ground to the city of Stuttgart 15 years before the space is available, which is an interest-free subvention of the project by the city of Stuttgart and which has especially enraged its citizens. With their project of a modernization of the existing station they have run against a brick wall of vested interests. No wonder, because a huge project requires a huge financing by the banks, whereas a gradual modernization is much less “interesting”. And a lot of (taxpayer) money is at stake, the project costs exploded from “for free” to an official 4 billion with an anticipated 60% increase of costs.9

In Germany the federal budget is responsible for railway infrastructure. The Länder, who run the short distance railways, are actually not allowed to finance “Deutsche Bahn” infrastructure projects, they can only contribute within certain limits. So in the eyes of many renowned juridical experts, the financing of “Stuttgart 21” by Baden-Württemberg (about which the referendum is held) and the city of Stuttgart is against the federalism of the German constitution.
The project was stopped by “Deutsche Bahn” in 1999 (together with “München 21” and “Frankfurt 21”) and only revived, because it was pushed by the local kings of Baden-Württemberg, they could only “convince” Deutsche Bahn, by taking over a big share of the financing (and their share is even higher through hidden subventions). Stuttgart is unique in Germany, because it had for nearly 60 years practically a one-party-government on state- and city-level with all its consequences (a lot of corruption and very undemocratic structures). Even Munich in CSU-Bavaria is not so bad, they have since many years a SPD mayor.

Recently more light was shed of this kind of modern feudalism by revelations about the buying of ENBW shares from EDF10. This deal was managed by Morgan Stanley (for which they got 13 Million Euros) and their CEO for Germany, Dirk Notheis, is a close friend of Stefan Mappus, the last head of the government in Stuttgart.11 Complaints have now been lodged with the European commission against this deal with Morgan Stanley.12

No surprise, that Baden-Württemberg has the most undemocratic regulations for a referendum, compared for example with Bavaria, Switzerland or France. A majority is only valid, if in absolute terms more than 33% of the people have voted for it. This means, that if you aim for more than 50%, you need a turnout of more than 66%. No elected government in Germany ever had such a result, every existing “democratic” government has been elected by only a minority in absolute terms. The parliament in Stuttgart was not willing to change the constitution, so one result of the referendum is certain: it will show, how undemocratic the constitution of Baden-Württemberg is regarding regulations for a referendum.

In January, the questions of European democracy will be discussed in Stuttgart on the occasion of the second conference of the Euroland Democratic Front (January 14 and 15). Stuttgart shows, like in a laboratory, the problems, the Europeans are facing everywhere. Everywhere profits are privatized and costs are socialized. The tax-payer and the “buyers” of public services (like public transport) have to pay for more and more. And the real problems of the people and especially of the young people are not looked at, as our states are run by incompetent and arrogant elites.

The people of Stuttgart have stopped trusting in those elites. When you participate in manifestations or meetings, you soon hear the slogan “Lügenpack” (bunch of liars). They claim, that the people are the sovereign13 and that the politicians should not be more than the employees of the people. And now they are even taking on the job of their employees, they inform the citizens, they develop plans and they finance investigations, they are creating their own future.

Christel Hahn
Tengen, Germany

*************************************************************************

Notes:

1 www.ja-zum-ausstieg.de/das-buendnis/mitglieder/
2 http://www.ingenieure22.de/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=51:kopfbahnhof-kann-mehr-leisten-als-s21&catid=35:presse&Itemid=58
3 http://www.leben-in-stuttgart.de/geschichte.htm
4 You can find this in the internet on the website of the citizen’s alliance http://www.kopfbahnhof-21.de/
and on the websites of the special groups, like http://www.architektinnen-fuer-k21.de/
5 Thousands of citizens watched via public viewing or at home the very detailed sessions with moderator Heiner Geissler, where (nearly) every aspect of the project was discussed publicly.
6 Monday demonstrations happened in East Germany before the fall of the Berlin wall, but the movement in Stuttgart is much stronger, than any movement was in East Germany. The CDU mayor of Stuttgart lost his majority in the city council, Baden-Württemberg saw a “regime change” and heads for its first referendum, Merkel lost her majority in the Bundesrat and might soon loose power herself on the federal level.
7 Traveling from Stuttgart to Munich has become slower during the last 20 years; any planned improvements will to a large extend balance this deceleration of the last years. Now Deutsche Bahn threatens to drop the high speed connection, if the underground station is cancelled.
8 Who wants to buy or rent urban commercial space these days?
9 Now the Pro-people are trying to save their vested interests by threatening the people with costs of 1.5 billion for opting out, if you look closer, you see, that this is the prize for the real estate and a few millions for planning and some work done. Opting out of nuclear energy or out of a big army seems no problem, but the threat of opting out of this project should be the doom of civilization? So opting out would be really a reversal of privatization.
10 http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/06/us-edf-enbw-idUSTRE7952RM20111006
11 http://www.zeit.de/wirtschaft/2010-12/enbw-mappus
12 http://www.schwarzwaelder-bote.de/inhalt.enbw-deal-bruessel-macht-mappus-das-leben-schwer.442ce29f-02f9-42f7-a6c6-45fb7caf5e42.html
13 http://www.stern.de/politik/deutschland/stuttgart-21-demokratie-heisst-fuer-mich-volksherrschaft-1610502.html


  
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