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Why has Germany's citizenship reform debate been delayed?

James Jackson
James Jackson - [email protected]
Why has Germany's citizenship reform debate been delayed?
A German passport. Photo: Markus Winkler from Pixabay

The planned reforms to Germany’s citizenship laws were taken off this week's Bundestag agenda following backlash against pro-Palestine protests.


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The first reading of the coalition government’s landmark law was due to be voted on by the Bundestag on November 9th, but has been taken off the agenda, and it is still unclear when it will be put back on, parliamentary sources familiar with the legislation told The Local on Monday morning.

The draft law is due to make it a lot easier to become a German citizen, reducing the time needed to have lived in Germany from eight years to five, or three in cases of special integration achievements and language skills.

Read more: Six surprising things about Germany's citizenship reform

But after tens of thousands in German cities have protested against Israel’s bombardment of Gaza following the October 7th terrorist attacks by Hamas, the reaction from some in politics has been to accuse protesters of anti-Semitism and question whether making citizenship easier is the right path.

It looks likely that there are disputes within the governing coalition about the law – but that conversations are taking place at leadership level, with parliamentary sources telling The Local there has been “no communication.”

This could take place at Monday’s ongoing summit in Berlin to discuss Germany-wide migration issues.

The deputy leader of the centre-right Free Democrats (FDP) told Bild newspaper “in the past few weeks we have talked a lot about imported Islamism and anti-Semitism and defined this as a massive problem for German society.”

He warned that with automatic naturalization at birth in Germany, this problem will not be reduced, but will probably no longer be able to be overcome.”

The Free Democrats (FDP) have taken a harder line on citizenship reform, while in the past the Greens have been more in favour.


The draft law passed by the cabinet to modernize nationality law stipulates, among other things, that all children born in Germany to foreign parents should receive a German passport if at least one parent has lived legally in Germany for more than five years. Currently, the deadline is eight years.

READ MORE: When is my child eligible for German citizenship?

Opposition leader Friedrich Merz of the conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) called for the coalition to “stop” their plans, pointing out that it would also make people who have been convicted of criminal offences which carry a sentence of one year in prison able to become citizens – under the current law they can only have been convicted for 9 months.


Merz also demanded that Germany's upcoming citizenship reforms should include a signed agreement acknowledging Israel's right to exist – increasingly an article of faith in German public life.


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