Holders of dual citizenship are enormously privileged

Polarize or integrate

The current dispute over the reform of citizenship law and the introduction of "dual citizenship" threatens to polarize German society to an extent that has not been the case since the dispute over Brandt's Ostpolitik at the beginning of the 1970s. Unlike then, it is not just a matter of a polarization between "right" and "left", between "conservative" and "progressive", but for the first time also between "Germans" and "foreigners", between "residents" and "immigrants". As a result, the social climate will deteriorate for years to come, and progress in integration that has been laboriously worked out over decades will be lost. The political and social elite in Germany not only did not prevent this disastrous development, but largely initiated it and took responsibility for it. Although more immigrants have come to Germany since the beginning of the 1960s than to any other comparable country, there is still a lack of a coherent immigration and integration concept.

This made the solution of the enormous economic, social and cultural problems caused by immigration more difficult and made those affected - Germans and foreigners - feel that they were being abandoned by politics. For years, there has been an increase in latent xenophobia on the one hand and a decline in the willingness of foreigners living here to integrate on the other. The resulting tensions were exacerbated by persistently high unemployment and the associated distribution conflicts. The widespread illusion that the changes triggered by large waves of immigration are reversible has contributed to the problem itself. For a long time, both politicians and those affected assumed that the "guest workers" of the first generation would return to their countries of origin after a few years, at the latest after reaching retirement age. When it became clear from the beginning of the 1980s that this expectation was not being met, politicians continued to rely on voluntary incentives to return for a while - without bringing about a fundamental change in the situation. Although the politically responsible have now largely recognized their misjudgment, they still lack the courage to admit this publicly and to confront their voters with the reality.

One of the main tasks is to anchor the knowledge of the finality of the changes that have occurred in social consciousness. This applies to all areas: The "proportion of foreigners" in Germany will continue to rise in the future, even with effective immigration restrictions (100,000 foreign children alone are born in Germany every year); In addition to Christianity, Islam will develop into the second large and numerically strong religion in Germany in the long run; Italian and Turkish, foreign culture, folklore and business will be part of public life for decades to come. Members of the immigrant groups will ascend to all areas of society and also assume leadership responsibility in politics, business, administration and the media. So far, a large part of the German population has perceived these changes not as enrichment, but as a threat. He expects to be saved from these changes. He wishes to reverse changes that have already occurred. Since politics cannot meet this requirement now or in the future, there is a medium and long-term risk of radical and extreme parties becoming more valued. It is therefore in the very own interest of the political elite in Germany to educate the population about the realities and to create acceptance for the urgently needed politics of integration. Due to the decades of neglect, this is an extremely difficult process, but it is only from this process that the need for individual measures, such as the reform of the nationality law or the introduction of Islamic religious instruction can be substantiated.

Irritant double passport

The discussion about the so-called "dual nationality" has for some years become the domestic political stimulus and symbolic issue. With their blanket no, the opponents associate the fear of further "mass" immigration, ethnic and cultural "foreign infiltration" and see internal security, even the traditional state and social order, endangered by the introduction of a general dual nationality. For the proponents, however, this approach has become a symbol, even a synonym for integration and equality. Both perspectives do not do justice to the actual importance of the legal institution of dual nationality. Their partly grotesque - ideological exaggeration is based on misunderstandings, misinterpretations and assumptions and still prevents a rational discussion of the advantages and disadvantages. For example, it is argued against dual nationality that it leads to more immigration through extended family reunification, prevents the deportation of "criminal" foreigners and enables foreign conflicts (e.g. in former Yugoslavia) to be resolved on German soil.

However, the feared negative consequences all result - if at all - from being granted German citizenship as such, but not from whether the person concerned also has one, two or more other passports. The decisive question is therefore under what conditions German citizenship may be granted (e.g. impunity, compliance with the constitution and the law). We also hear that dual citizenship leads to dual loyalty - although loyalty is not a legal category and has nothing to do with passport or citizenship. The vast majority of immigrants, even without German citizenship, are much more loyal to the German state than, for example - to take up the comparison made by Prime Minister Stoiber - the terrorists of the former RAF (with exclusively German passports). Loyalty cannot be prescribed by law, but is usually the result of successful socialization and integration. In addition, although no community can endure without a minimum of loyalty from its citizens, it is not enforceable.

Opponents of dual nationality also claim that it leads to a "multicultural society" while, conversely, many foreign citizens assume that upon naturalization they would have to give their cultural identity to the cloakroom with their old passport, so to speak. Both fears are wrong. It is true that the Basic Law was created against the background of a very specific, Christian-Western cultural and social order, but this existing order is not in turn guaranteed by the constitution. Rather, everyone who lives in Germany, regardless of whether with or without a German passport, single or dual national, has the opportunity within the existing laws not only to preserve their own identity and culture, but also to develop it. Just as German immigrants in Russia or the USA have preserved and cultivated the German language and culture for centuries and in some cases to this day, so can foreigners living permanently in Germany, even if they and theirs are naturalized discard old citizenship. The fact that the Federal Republic is becoming culturally more colorful and diverse is a direct consequence of the social changes triggered by massive immigration over the past few decades.

This process will continue in the future, even if there is not a single additional dual nationality. The legal and administrative problems that are often cited in connection with dual nationality are almost all constructed, as private international law with its conflict-of-law rules already allows largely conflict-free solutions. Issues such as double conscription have largely already been resolved or can be settled with little effort. The prejudice of the privilege that comes with dual nationality persists. On the one hand, the rights associated with citizenship are always offset by obligations; on the other hand, the second passport has almost no relevance in everyday life, apart from the fact that the holder may have the right to vote in two countries. This, in turn, can be viewed critically - but it should also be considered to what extent the granting of the right to vote to Turks living abroad some time ago does not exactly strengthen the democratic parties in Turkey against the Islamists who are advancing . The only real argument that speaks against the admission of general dual citizenship, in my opinion, is about the social conflicts that may be fostered by it. Precisely because there are widespread reservations and fears against dual citizenship in the population (mostly unfounded but), politicians must ask themselves whether these fears can actually be allayed (with government information campaigns, however expensive), within a few months, or whether Rather, it is not a long process that would be burdened by sudden radical changes.

There is also the risk that "German" employees who face competition in their company from, in some cases, better motivated and more reliable "foreign" colleagues, will feel that the foreign employees who have hitherto been legally discriminated against compared to their German colleagues could now be privileged. Politicians have little influence on such developments and their consequences, but they must nevertheless be considered. The general admission of dual citizenship must therefore be judged as problematic from the point of view discussed last - and it is not necessary for integration to succeed. Is this sufficient as a reason for "signature campaigns" and similar "campaign forms" that have been discussed and prepared since mid-January? Without a doubt, social discourse must also be possible on such questions, but actions like the ones mentioned in this sensitive area do not contribute to the reduction, but to the exacerbation of existing misunderstandings and prejudices. They harbor the risk of further polarization, a change in the social climate, which politics could then not simply reverse. Even if the goal of integration is treated on an equal footing with the rejection of dual citizenship, the vast majority of foreigners living in this country will perceive such campaigns as being directed against them and their presence. The initiators of such actions will make it difficult, if not impossible, to talk to foreigners living in Germany for a long time.

A kind of German unification

It is one of the positive experiences in German post-war history that a cross-party consensus could be achieved on fundamental and difficult questions of domestic and foreign policy - which was very beneficial in solving these problems. This is how they came together when it came to German unity, and European unification was also pursued by consensus, most recently with the introduction of the euro. Dealing with immigration, which has lasted for 30 years, by integrating foreigners legally and permanently living in Germany into our society is of comparable quality - a topic of crucial importance for the future and social peace in our country, but also highly susceptible to populist sentiment . That is why it should be tackled by national consensus. So far, this has not been achieved, it has not even been seriously attempted. Most recently, during two legislative periods, the Union failed to present a proposal to reorganize citizenship law that would have received a majority in parliament and society.

The new federal government, which advocates round tables everywhere from the fight against unemployment to the nuclear phase-out and which is also implementing them, has apparently misunderstood the social reality of being able to cope with the reform of nationality law on its own and is committed to the introduction of a general dual nationality without first seeking dialogue with the opposition and the relevant social groups. If the topic is now used for election campaign purposes and as an instrument of the domestic power struggle between the government and the opposition, the victims would not only be the foreigners living here. In Frankfurt am Main, the proportion of foreigners among young people up to the age of 20 is more than 45%. The tensions that arise as a result must not be further exacerbated. The reform of citizenship law cannot in itself guarantee the success of integration, but it does send an important signal.

And to set this signal is also possible without the introduction of a general dual nationality, for example by supplementing the iussanguinis (right of descent) with the iussoli and thus enabling foreign young people born in Germany to grow up as Germans, with all rights and Duties. Legally, this is only possible if you accept dual citizenship until you reach the age of majority. It should also be considered whether a special gesture of gratitude towards the very first generation of immigrants for the services rendered would be useful. Integration does not take place as a one-off act, but as a process, step by step and over several generations. It is legitimate to think about whether the increased admission of exceptional or temporary dual citizenship can accelerate this integration process. The granting of citizenship can definitely be a means of integration; therefore it would be completely wrong to allow them to be awarded only after integration has taken place. There will be more immigration to Germany in the coming years - albeit to a much lesser extent than that of the 1960s and 1970s. Finally coping with the consequences also means solving a "transitional problem" - and this should be reflected in a sensible reform.