In an interview with Super Illu magazine published Sunday, Pieper said, "With referendums not only on the local and state levels, but on the federal level too, politics can win back trust and credibility."
Pieper said that politics should have more courage and "allow people to have direct influence on national decisions." She also believes this should include the election of the German president, who is currently elected by the Federal Convention, made up of parliamentarians and selected state representatives.
A state-level referendum, provoked by a public initiative delivering a successful petition, recently enforced a full smoking ban in public buildings in Bavaria, but national referendums currently do not exist in German law. The Bavarian ban came into force on Sunday.
According to Pieper, who is also a minister of state in the Foreign Ministry, the political parties have noticed "an increasing loss of trust among the people in politics and its institutions."
"The turnouts are sinking further and further, and fewer and fewer people believe that they can influence decisions through elections," Pieper told the magazine. "We politicians should listen more and move closer to the population."
"The more direct democracy we have, the more referendums and public initiatives there are, the harder we politicians have to work," Pieper concluded, describing the result as a "healthy competition" that would give politics a real chance to win back the trust of the people.
Pieper described Germany's reunification twenty years ago as "the most beautiful example of a public initiative."