The centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), Greens and the socialist Left party had united to try to change the current law which forces children born in Germany to choose between their parents’ nationality and German citizenship. If they fail to make a decision by the time they are 23, they are stripped of the right to a German passport.
Even though the SPD had voted in favour of the rule known as the Optionspflicht in 1999, the party’s parliamentary leader Frank-Walter Steinmeier said it now needed to be changed. “This option rule does not work,” he said, adding his party should make good what it had gone wrong in the past.
Green MP Hans-Christian Ströbele also said the 1999 law was a mistake, but added that it had been the only way to get a dual citizenship passed at all in the face of conservative opposition in the upper house of parliament at the time.
Conservative MP Stephan Meyer spoke during the debate on Thursday calling the motion’s timing ridiculous, noting that the first choices were made only in 2008 and that they had until 2013 to make their decisions. He said the up to 5,000 people concerned each year should be questioned about their experiences before the law is changed.
And Free Democratic MP Hartfrid Wolff said a person with dual citizenship would “not be accepted anywhere as an equal citizen.”
This was furiously batted down by Green MP Omid Nouripour, who said such “loyalty paranoia” was unfair to the hundreds of thousands of people who were working in Germany.