In 1999, the Federal State of Berlin was facing the same problems as many other underfinanced cities and regions in Europe. It had debts of around € 34.8 billion. The administration in Berlin had only one solution to this problem: it had to save money and privatize public services. The Maastricht Treaty was cited in justification of this political course of action, as it required EU Member States to “consolidate” their budgets. This policy of privatization, generally known as PPP (Public-Private Partnership), was pushed through against the wishes of the population. Between 1994 and 2007, public property worth € 13.7 billion was sold off in Berlin. Today, Berlin’s debt level amounts to € 62 billion. Policy then was based on the principle of “Private can do everything better”. There was thus no political power left that could give expression to the citizens’ wishes.
Then direct democracy stepped into the gap