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Vote to nationalise Berlin grid narrowly fails

A vote by the citizens of Berlin, Germany that would have seen the establishment of a democratically controlled public utility for the city has narrowly failed to achieve a mandate.

The referendum, which called for the adoption of a law that would have established a public utility to generate renewable energy while keeping prices affordable, saw the required vote fall just short of the 25 per cent quorum required, despite an 80 per cent turnout.

Klaus Wowereit
The board of the proposed utility would include members directly elected by Berliners and had been supported by the Green party but been opposed by a coalition of Social Democrats and Christian Democrats, which warned of “incalculable financial risks”.

The FT reports that Klaus Wowereit, Berlin’s Social Democrat mayor, told local media on Sunday: “It is important that the public influence on significant matters concerning public services is strengthened but without entering into unacceptable risks.

In September, citizens in Hamburg voted to return their grid to public ownership. Grids in both Berlin and Hamburg, Germany’s two biggest cities, are operated by Vattenfall, the Swedish state-owned energy group.

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