In a move reminiscent of Bertolt Brecht’s poem “The Solution,” the leftist coalition government in Germany, facing growing public disapproval and electoral losses, appears to be seeking the creation of a new electorate through a recently approved citizenship law. This measure, ratified by the Bundestag on Friday, shortens the residency period necessary for newcomers to vote, potentially adding 2.5 million foreign voters in favor of the left in the upcoming federal elections.
The new legislation allows foreigners to obtain German citizenship after five years of residence, down from the previous requirement of eight years, and in cases of “exceptional integration effort,” this period is reduced to three years. Additionally, the demands for proficiency in the German language for older applicants have been relaxed, and children of foreigners residing for five years will be automatically naturalized.
Experts indicate that this reform will enable 2.5 million foreigners to immediately apply for German citizenship, including many who entered the country illegally during the migration crisis of 2016. This strategy is seen as a desperate attempt by the government to boost its popularity ahead of elections, in the face of growing preference for the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Alternative for Germany (AfD), especially due to the government’s controversial immigration policy.
The measure has been criticized for allegedly favoring the interests of the governing coalition in the upcoming elections, an observation that has not gone unnoticed among analysts. Alexander Throm of the CDU has denounced the law as one of the most harmful to society approved by the current government, while Mario Voigt, CDU leader in Thuringia, criticizes the government’s loss of contact with the country’s reality and the need for an orderly migration policy that rewards successful integration before naturalization. Meanwhile, the AfD accuses the government of “selling German passports” as a defense of its failed migration policy.