Potsdam – A case of illness in the ranks of the SPD, CDU, Greens and Left and the tough negotiations of the past few months would have been in vain. With 59 yes votes – just as many as needed for the two-thirds majority – the Brandenburg state parliament on Thursday important changes to the state constitution approved by referendum in 1992 decided.
The red-black-green government coalition and the opposition left, who submitted the motion together, accounted for 60 of the 88 MPs. The CDU MP Ingo Senftleben had abstained, as did the five members of the BVB/Free Voters faction. 18 no votes came from the AfD, which, as the second largest group, sees itself robbed by a change in the post of Vice President of the Parliament. In the future, as before 2015, the parliamentary groups will no longer have the right to propose elections to the Executive Committee in order of strength. Instead, it is only stipulated that one of the two deputy posts goes to the opposition. Left parliamentary group leader Sebastian Walter said: “We stand by it: we want to vote out Vice President Andreas Galau.”

The text of the constitution now gives women and men equal rights

With the changes, the fight against anti-Semitism and antiziganism as well as the promotion of Jewish life are now national goals in Brandenburg. The further development of friendly relations with neighboring Poland and the protection of the Low German language known as Low German are now anchored in the legal text. The constitution will also be formulated in a gender-equitable manner; in future, women and men will be named equally or neutral terms will be used. “Hooray! We made history in the state parliament. Brandenburg has the first constitution in Germany that gives women and men equal rights,” tweeted Green MEP Heiner Klemp after the vote.

Much encouragement for anti-Semitism clause

However, the fact that the fight against anti-Semitism is now a state goal met with a particularly positive response. “This makes it clear: The fight against Jew-hatred has the highest priority in Brandenburg,” said the President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Josef Schuster, to the Evangelical Press Service (epd) in Potsdam. The Brandenburg anti-Semitism department, the Victims’ Perspective Association and the Action Alliance against Right-Wing Extremism also welcomed the amendment. Brandenburg is thus sending a significant signal, they explained.
“I am very grateful that the state government and above all the parliament have taken up our initiative”, said the managing director of the Potsdam FC Flick Foundation against xenophobia, racism and intolerance, Susanne Krause-Hinrichs. “The current scandal at the Documenta in Kassel shows how difficult it is to recognize anti-Semitism and deal with its various forms.” Miriam Rürup, Director of the Moses Mendelssohn Center (MMZ) for European-Jewish Studies, also welcomes the amendment . “It is an important step that further forms of discrimination are now being named.”
The initiative to amend the constitution goes back to a symposium held in the summer of 2020 by the Flick Foundation and the MMZ at the University of Potsdam with the support of the Brandenburg Ministry of Culture.

150 anti-Semitic crimes in Brandenburg in the previous year

“Anti-Semitism is not a traditional term from the history books, but is still a bitter reality for Jews living in Germany,” said Minister of Culture Manja Schüle (SPD). She is therefore very happy that the protection and promotion of Jewish culture and Jewish life are now also explicitly anchored in the constitution. “It is clear to all of us that an anti-Semitism clause in the state constitution does not abolish hatred and prejudice by decree,” said Schüle. But it creates an important sensitization and the necessary self-assurance that the commitment against anti-Semitism requires full commitment from everyone. “We must do everything to ensure that Jews in Brandenburg can feel safe and that Jewish life can develop freely.” According to the Interior Ministry, 150 anti-Semitic crimes were committed in Brandenburg last year.