German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser is causing a lot of political controversy with a demand. The SPD politician, who is running for the state elections on October 8 in Hesse, wants to extend voting rights at local level to refugees who have lived in the state for more than six months.
Faeser’s election manifesto states the following: “We want to work hard at the federal level and in the Bundesrat to ensure that all people who have lived in Hessian municipalities for more than six months have the right to vote in municipal elections.” Currently, German citizens and EU citizens foreigners can have a say at the local level. According to bild.de, the new target group of the SPD from Hesse consists of people who have a “permanent residence permit”. However, it often takes longer than six months to obtain one.
Migration researcher Stefan Luft warns ‘Bild’ against a ‘devaluation of the naturalization’ of foreigners. Because it would undermine the integration necessary for citizenship. The expansion of voting rights would mean an increase in the number of voting population groups by several million people within this legislative period.
CDU “clearly rejects”
The CDU “clearly rejects this,” as Hesse Secretary General Manfred Pentz emphasized to bild.de. “The right to vote is not a campaign football, but one of our highest democratic values – and should be reserved for members of our state,” Pentz said. Martin Hess, Member of the Bundestag for the Alternative for Germany, echoes the same sentiments, albeit in a sharper tone: “Faeser is and remains a real danger to our democracy. Our right to vote is a valuable asset and a pillar of our democracy and should under no circumstances be placed at the disposal of incompetent politicians.” The right-wing populist party speaks of a “migration policy disaster”.
Expert suggests depriving emigrants of their voting rights
Daniel Thym, an expert in European law at the University of Konstanz, certainly sees something in Faeser’s idea. The people who actively participate in public life and live permanently in the country must “strengthen democracy” through their voting rights, he says on X (formerly Twitter).
In this context he speaks of ‘participation based on concern’. Conversely, according to the professor, one should also consider withdrawing the voting rights for emigrants.
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