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German conservatives slammed for 'racial ideology' on citizenship

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German conservatives slammed for 'racial ideology' on citizenship
No dual nationals: a man born in Togo awaits citizenship in Berlin. Photo: DPA
15:35 CEST+02:00
A leading parliamentarian for Germany's Social Democratic Party has criticized Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats for pursuing citizenship rules based on “racial ideology” instead of allowing dual nationality.

Sebastian Edathy, chairman of the parliamentary committee for interior policy, told the Wednesday edition of daily newspaper Die Welt that he saw little chance for consensus on citizenship issues between Merkel's conservatives and his centre-left Social Democrats in this legislative period.

Whereas the SPD would like to allow dual citizenship, the Christian Democrats favour ditching the current model – which forces people to renounce another nationality to become German – to return to the even more restrictive old rules based on blood and whether a child's parents are German citizens.

“That's essentially biologism and racial ideology. That would drag us back to the 19th century,” Edathy told the paper. “The time is ripe to rid the discussion about multiple nationality of ideology and to search for pragmatic solutions.”

The Christian Democrats and the SPD have cohabitated in an uneasy coalition for the past few years, however, Edathy said next year's general election meant there was little chance for headway on controversial issues such as Germany's often criticized rules for citizenship.

Although millions of permanent residents from Turkish families were born and raised in Germany, they are forced to give up their claim to Turkish citizenship if they wish to have a German passport. While the Christian Democrats believe such a choice aids integration into German society, the Social Democrats point to other countries such as France, Britain and the United States that have multicultural societies and yet allow dual citizenship.

But a sign of Germany having a double standard on citizenship surfaced last week amid reports that increasing numbers of Germans living abroad are taking on a second citizenship without sacrificing their German passport.

A spokesman for the Interior Ministry told the Osnabrücker Zeitung that more than 23,000 Germans living outside Europe had applied to retain their German nationality while applying for a new one since 2000.

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