Dual Citizenship in Germany – Life with two Passports

Dual Citizenship in Germany - Life with two Passports
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Dual Citizenship is a frequently discussed topic in German politics, especially when elections draw near. Conservative and right-wing players in particular like to invoke debates on the matter in order to score with their constituents. In 2016, the continuing discussion on dual citizenship came back onto the table: First, in the summer after large-scale pro-Erdogan demonstrations in the aftermath of the attempted coup in Turkey in July. Second, after the CDU party conference in December. The delegates voted to reinstate the so-called “Optionspflicht” (option obligation) as a measure against terrorism. This law forces adolescent owners of two nationalities to decide for one of their passports between the age of 18 and 23. Even though Angela Merkel aims to preserve the status quo of the dual citizenship, the vote ignited the debate once more.

There is an unwritten principle in the German handling of multiple citizenships: it is to be avoided. The idea is to eschew legal complications. Nonetheless, the reality is a different one, as up to roughly 4% of Germans have at least two passports. I’m being so coy on the number, as the real figures are quite unclear as well, meaning Germany’s dual citizens have never been fully counted.

The legal Situation of Dual Citizenship in Germany

In Germany, a dual citizenship is allowed within the borders of the European Union. If all requirements for gaining German citizenship are fulfilled, the existence of a second nationality will be accepted. The legality of two passports, of course, depends on the respective laws in both countries concerned. I, for example, have a Danish as well as a German passport, which before September 2015 was only possible through a loophole in Danish law, but Denmark changed its policy on multiple citizenships and now I am officially allowed to keep both nationalities. Dual citizenship concerning Germany and a country outside the EU is a very different matter.

International Regulations

There are, for example, countries, such as Afghanistan, Iran, Morocco, or Tunisia, that basically don’t “let go” of their citizens, even if they take on another citizenship and have lived in another country for most of or all of their lives. If you are born to a German parent, you’ll automatically have German citizenship, whether you’ll keep the nationality of your other parent, depends on his or her country of origin. Since 2014, children of non-EU citizens born and grown up in Germany are allowed to keep their parents nationality as well, if they lived in Germany for at least 8 years until the age of 21, went to a German school for at least 6 years, graduated in Germany or have a German training certificate.

Political Motivation of depriving Citizens of their German Citizenship

So what is the CDU, in the person of Minister of the Interior, Thomas De Maizière, aiming at, when it speaks of depriving people (in this case Islamic terrorists) of their German citizenship and when it dwells on limiting the statutes on dual citizenship? To be clear: It is virtually impossible to lose German citizenship if it’s the only one you have. Thus, this threat is only addressing owners of at least two citizenships. In the case currently debated, the 677 people that reportedly went to Syria and Iraq to fight for Daesh that would concern roughly 170 persons. So, even though life would be undoubtedly harder for those people, it seems the De Maizière’s motives are driven by the hopes of appealing to its own right. Numerous other CDU-Politicians aim at abolishing dual citizenship once and for all.

In 2008, about half of all countries on earth allowed dual citizenship, confirming a trend that more and more nations were increasingly tolerant in the matter. Recent rises in right-wing populism and extreme conservatism across Europe and numerous other parts of the world might, of course, turn that trend around.

A Short History of Geman Space Travel

A short History of German Space Flight
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To be honest, when I first had the idea of writing about German space travel, I didn’t think that there would be a lot to write about. I actually just thought that the title “A short History of German Space Travel” sounded good. After looking into the matter, I was a little surprised that even though no German astronaut ever made it to the moon, there is actually a whole lot of history of German involvement in space travel. Let’s take a peek.

Rocket Fever

It all began in the 1920’s. While Germany was banned from researching or producing any military technology by the Versaille Treaty after World War I, surprisingly enough, rocket science was not part of that ban. Thus, many German scientists engaged in the fruitful exploration of rocket technology. In the so-called “Golden Twenties”, rocket science and the idea of space travel quickly became a cultural phenomenon. Large-scale public experiments were accompanied by fiction and non-fiction literature, movies and the foundations of space travel associations.

With the dawn of the Third Reich, aerospace research was practically completely militarized and declared a secret state matter. The scientists simultaneously worked on space flight as well as the weaponization of rocket technology. Unbeknownst to me, German scientists actually were the first ones to shoot a rocket into space in 1942. Less than two years later, rockets of the same type are used as enormously destructive weapons in World War II, now infamously known as V2. After the war, Germany is banned from military research once more, this time including rocket science. Further, remaining technology, as well as numerous scientists, are brought to the USA and the USSR.

After the Occupation

Of course, the new generations of German scientists did not lose interest in aeronautics. They kept informing themselves on latest findings and kept institutionalizing. After the occupation ended, German scientists instantly became involved in international space programs. While western German scientists and agencies closely cooperated with the USA, GDR-Experts were largely participating in Soviet space programs as the GDR was part of the Soviet Union. In 1967 the FRG is beginning its first ever autonomous space exploration program, which launches its first satellite two years later.

The second half of the 20th century sees numerous German co-operations in terms of space exploration and travel. There’s major involvement in the creation of the European Space Agency in 1975, furthermore western German scientists partake in such renowned missions as the launches of Viking 1 & 2. Voyager 1 & 2 and the repeated launches of the carrier rocket Ariane. The GDR, on the other hand, launches its first satellite in 1969. In 1978, GDR-Citizen Sigmund Jähn is the first German in space, when he visited a Soviet space station. Western Germany sends its first man into space five years later.

German scientists and astronauts from both sides of the iron curtain keep being involved with scientific projects and rocket launches. After the end of the Soviet Union and German Reunification, international space travel becomes less of a race and a little more of a joint venture. German astronauts visit space with Russian as well as American missions. German experiments make it onto the Pathfinder-Missions to Mars. The German space agency DLR is heading the development of the landing unit of the famous Rosetta probe. Further, the agency is involved in a large number of probe missions with all kinds of goals. It very much seems as if I underestimated German space science. From the very beginnings of international rocket research and space exploration, German scientists have been aboard. If you get my drift.

Types of Companies in Germany

Types of Companies in Germany
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OHG! This Guy listed different Types of Companies in Germany, you won’t believe what happened next…

When moving to Germany in order to work here, it might be helpful to know a little about the types of companies you might encounter. That’s why we thought we’d provide you with a short overview. When we speak of company types, we refer to the legal form. In Germany, we differentiate between individual companies or enterprises (Einzelunternehmen), private companies or partnerships (Personengesellschaften) and (stock) corporations (Kapitalgesellschaften). Let’s start with the individual enterprises.

Individual Enterprises

There is actually only one form of individual enterprise, which is surprisingly called: individual enterprise. This type of company is mostly interesting for free-lancers and single entrepreneurs such as artists or craftsmen. The advantage of this legal form is that you have full control over your business. But you are also completely and personally liable for it.

Individual Companies:


The Gesellschaft bürgerlichen Rechts is the equivalent of a simple business partnership, basically at least two entrepreneurs working together. The bureaucratic challenges are limited when founding and running a GbR and you don’t need starting capital. The downside of the relative legal freedom is that every partner remains fully liable. The GbR is very popular among start-ups and founders.


The Partnergesellschaft is not seen as often as the GbR for example. It is specifically interesting for freelancers from different trades partnering up. The PartG is more complicated in terms of bureaucracy but offers advantages as well. The company can be registered and the company’s capital is liable before any personal responsibilities.


The Offene Handelsgesellschaft has a high esteem among credit institutions and business partners. The reason is that members of an OHG are personally liable for their businesses actions. Unlike the GbR, the OHG is entered into the commercial register.


The Kommanditgesellschaft is made up of the general partner, who is leading the business, and the limited partners. The latter hold shares in the company but are only liable to the extent of those shares. Only the general partner is fully liable.



The “Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung, short GmbH, is probably the best-known type of company in Germany. It’s British or American equivalent would be the limited company. If you want to found a GmbH you need starting capital and are facing a number of bureaucratic hurdles, but are afterward not personally liable to the extent of the company’s capital.

GmbH & Co. KG

Similar to the KG, the Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung & Companie Kommanditgesellschaft is a company for entrepreneurs who need extended capital. The limited partners provide the minimum capital for the GmbH (25.000 €), which is the liable body of the company.


The Unternehmergesellschaft is a version of the GmbH. This legal form is suitable for small companies especially. You need only a minimal starting capital (1 €). The company is liable to the extent of its assets, but to be granted a credit you often need private securities to back your application up.


The Aktiengesellschaft is a stock company. Apart from the large corporations, the AG can be a feasible alternative for medium-sized-companies. In this case, the company is not a member in a stock exchange and the shareholders usually are employees or clients of the company. There have to be an executive board, as well as a supervisory board and to found an AG you need a starting capital of at least 50.000.


The eingetragene Genossenschaft (registered cooperative) serves as a legal form for teams of company founders and for a means of cooperation for small and medium-sized companies. It has numerous similarities to the registered association.

Why are British Jews applying for German Citizenship?

Why are British Jews applying for German Citizenship?
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Almost Unthinkable – Jewish UK-Citizens apply for German Passports

Somewhat 72 years after the end of World War II, hundreds of Jewish British citizens are applying for a German passport and have a realistic chance of getting one. As that would absolutely be unthinkable in many Jewish communities around the globe, you’d have to be inclined to ask: why? Plus, how is that even possible?

But, let’s take a step back to the second biggest surprise of 2016, only trumped by the US-President, the Brexit. A year and a half later, the future of Great Britain is still very much unclear, but many people suspect that it won’t be too bright. Consequently, people think hard about what they can do to safeguard their situation. There are legitimate fears that the economic situation in the United Kingdom will deteriorate once Britain has effectively left the European Union. One thing that definitely is in danger, is the freedom to move about in Europe without having to worry about visa, enabling you to take a job anywhere without too much trouble. And for Jewish citizens of the UK, this is where it gets interesting.

The constitutional base for the Applications for German Citizenship

The German Grundgesetz, our constitution that was issued in 1949, includes an article (No 116) that allows for descendants of Jewish refugees in World War II to obtain the German citizenship. The law is related to rescinding of the German citizenship for all German Jews leaving the country, which came into effect in 1941. While the German Embassy in London received approximately 25 applications for citizenship per annum in recent years, there have been more than 500 new inquiries about the application process since the Brexit Referendum. Now, 500 people aren’t the world, but in relation to the specific group and its history, the development is quite remarkable. The German Embassy is not the only one with increased application numbers. The same goes for the Embassies of Austria and Poland.

Still, for many Jewish People taking up German citizenship is unthinkable. Germany is after all the scene of the worst slaughter of Jews ever witnessed. And when you’re parents or grandparents have been its victims, 72 years is actually not that long ago. Even if a German passport wouldn’t mean that people would actually have to or want to live in Germany, for a lot of Jewish people the idea must be somewhat befuddling. But for some of the Jewish people applying for a German passport, it’s about more than keeping their personal options open. It’s also about Europe – a structure that was at least in part created to make war in Europe impossible, which it does, within limits. To some, it is even about reconciliation.

German Jewish Communities are growing and could be welcoming new Members

Interestingly enough, there are growing Jewish communities in Germany. Especially Berlin and other larger cities have had an influx of Jewish people from Eastern Europe and other parts of the world. In recent years, particularly the capital has seen a rising number of young Israeli moving in. There are a couple of Jewish organizations from the different streams, counting more than 100.000 members, a number which has rapidly grown from roughly 30.000 in 1989. The last 60 years witnessed the building of more than a hundred Synagogues and Jewish community centers. One can certainly say that there has been a return of Jewish life to Germany to some extent. Thus, British Jews actually coming to Germany would not even be early adapters.

So, whether it might be for practical reasons or to reconcile with their own and with our German past, there is a strong possibility that we’re able to welcome a few more Jewish Germans in the near future. As an advocate of transculturality, I think that’s amazing.

Gutenberg and the Invention of the Printing Press

Gutenberg and the Invention of the Printing Press
© Pixabay

The market of printed books might still be strong and the rise of e-books might be slower than many expected. But printed papers and magazines already feel the heavy burden of the digital age increasing the more electronic mobile devices spread around the globe. As we still are in the early stages of this new – maybe the digital – century, this could be the adequate time to look back on an earlier transformation of the means we convey written information. A transformation that helped to shape the last 550 years: printing.

Cultural Reading Habits…

Even when we read books or magazines on our digital devices, most of the time, they still mirror pages and printed structures. May the digital age be one of enormous pace, some cultural practices still take longer to change than others. With your tablet computer, your costly designed hardcover, and your paperback novel in mind, imagine that 600 years ago, a book was usually made from animal skin (both cover and pages) and had to be hand written. Picture, it would be your job to copy, say, the Bible, maybe ten times, and others should be able to read it. And even though books and written products were more widespread than we usually think, try to conceive of the sheer explosion of written language throughout Europe that must have occurred after the invention of the printing press.

And how Gutenberg changed them!

The time is around 1450, and on to the stage steps Johannes Gutenberg. To relieve you of your strenuous duties as a copier of Bibles, he, of course, made his breakthrough with printing and selling of Bibles. But, while created using a brand new technology, the books themselves were designed to pretty much look like a Bible the customers were used to. To be able to print series of different books, Gutenberg not only had to invent a moveable set of type, he also had to find a new kind of ink, as traditional water-based ink would not work in the printing press. What he eventually used was actually not ink, but varnish. In his inventions, Johannes Gutenberg drew inspiration and even borrowed techniques from the arts and crafts that surrounded him and his resident city of Mainz was fertile grounds for his undertaking.

Not to take away from his well-deserved fame, but Gutenberg did, of course, not actually invent printing itself. There had been other forms before, but as his predecessors did not use moveable type, any mistakes made could not be corrected. Gutenberg came up with moveable metal letters, that would be pressed onto the paper with the exact same pressure, resulting in a text that would be much clearer and even than handwritten words could ever be. This is another brilliant feature of Gutenberg’s idea of using a press. To use his invention he even had to overcome such hurdles as creating a multitude of absolutely identical copies of each letter of the alphabet, meaning: the different letters as well as all the copies had to have the same height if you didn’t want to risk damaging the paper. Further, using the printing press, one could make sure that the text would be printed in the exact same place on both sides of a page.

Being a talented entrepreneur and salesman, as well as a great inventor and craftsman, Gutenberg not only helped to create the basis of our written communication, he also spread his works and thus the technology. What he sold were actually not bound books, but packets of loose pages. That is why most of the early printed books do not look alike.

Grades of Separation – Church and State in Germany

Grades of Separation – Church and State in Germany
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The Situation of Church and State in Germany

In times of religiously legitimized fundamental terrorism, religion is obviously still playing a big role in the ways of the world. Though it’s easy to think the world would be quite secularized, the great religions are in fact gaining in numbers. And despite every society usually viewing itself as the norm, Germany is indeed one of the exceptions when it comes to its religious make-up. Taking into consideration that having a denomination doesn’t necessarily mean you are a particularly religious or faithful person, still more than half of the German population is a member of either the Catholic or the Protestant churches. In addition, circa 5,5 % of Germans is part of another confession, such as the Islam or Judaism. The rest of the population is undenominational, that means roughly 30 Million of 80 Million people. What makes Germany one of the exceptions is that above all the two large Christian churches have continuously been losing members, and are going on to do so. In any case, the churches are still of utmost importance in Germany. So, let us take a look at the relationship of church and state in the country.

Bound by Contract

In Germany, the relationship between the state and the two major churches is defined by a contract. The foundation of this contract is the separation of church and state, which in turn can be traced back to the French Revolution and the development of laicism. The term laicism is derived from the French word “laïc”, which originally meant anyone who was not part of the clergy. A laical state is thus one that bases its values not or at least not only on religious commandments and that ultimately places religion in the private life of its citizens. Germany is almost a laical state, in that there is an official separation of church and state. Churches should not have a say in state matters. As it usually goes with us humans, things are, of course, not quite so clear. For one, the Bundesrepublik is collecting a special church tax (though only from those who actually are church members) for the churches. In return, churches compensate the tax authorities for their efforts. Additionally, Christian holidays are statutory in Germany. But, Churches, respectively organizations that have equal contracts with the state, profit, even more, form German law. They legally are charitable organizations, which has an impact on the taxes they have to pay. Further, the salaries of bishops and religion teachers (who are not allowed to teach without the consent of their respective church) are being paid by the state, not through church taxes but out of the budget that pays civil servants. At the same time, the churches are able to dictate the rules of the working environments. The maintenance of buildings owned by the church is also financed by all taxpayers. In numbers, that’s a sum of about 450 Million Euro each year (not including the church tax). Thus, the Christian churches in Germany are definitely privileged in comparison to other religious organizations.

As mentioned before, the details of these issues are defined in state contracts, the so-called concordats with the Vatican and the Church-State Treaties with the Protestant Church. A very few other representative religious organizations, such as the Central Council of Jews in Germany, have coherent contracts with the Bundesrepublik. As there are many smaller religious organizations that do not have equivalent contracts with the state and merely count as e.g. non-profit associations, it is noteworthy, that these kinds of contracts are very special. As you see, we can’t really speak of a complete separation of church and state.    

Fake-News in Germany and their Impact in public

Fake-News in Germany and their Impact in public
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After closely following the course of the US-Election, a couple of new terms entered my vocabulary – terms such as “Filter-Bubble” or “Fake-News”. And as Americans are always a little faster than most Germans in all things social media, I was not surprised when Fake-News and Filter Bubbles made the, well, news in Germany as well. But I wondered: Is that a thing in Germany too?

Fake-News in Germany?

The short answer: Absolutely. “News” proclaiming outright falsehoods or simply changing or falsifying actual facts in order to support certain sentiments are meandering through networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat and even made it to messenger apps such as Whatsapp, by sparking police investigations into the authors of specific items.

While the Fake-News-Discussion in the USA blew up to enormous proportions, including justifiable suspicions of clandestine operations by foreign secret service agencies, I asked myself: What kind of Fake-News do pop up in German social media? Who profits and who might launch them or at least push them ahead?

How to identify Fake-News in Germany

In case you are unclear about how to identify a news report as a purposeful falsehood, let me give you a few hints: It might be a cliché, but in Germany, truthful news tends not to be narrated in an (overly) exaggerated fashion. Furthermore, it is always a good idea to check the author and the respective website’s imprint for information. When it doesn’t really become clear who runs the site, it’s wise to be critical about its contents. Apropos contents: usually real news can be found on more than one news site. Are there different versions of the news (and not only copies of the exact same statement) on the web, it makes the report more plausible. In the case of images, it can help to reverse search an image using Google or other search engines in order to clarify whether a picture or film is actually showing the reported news or whether it has other origins.

Who uses this Tool in Germany?

Following inquiries of politicians from all major parties of the spectrum, it seems that only the right-wing AfD is deliberately pushing and using Fake-News to further their agenda and to mobilize possible supporters and voters. Research revealed that some of the high-ranking party officials even have strong (even proprietary) ties to multiple websites that are either hotbeds or active sources for such false information.

What are the main Topics?

Consequently, the most frequent topics of these deliberate falsehoods revolve around the refugee crisis, the fear of Islamic terror, and general Anti-Muslim as well as xenophobic sentiments – often including attacks on the established political parties and the government. In detail, this means reports of masses of refugees being secretly brought into the country by the government, false terror threats, and stories of (white German) women and children being raped by barbaric gangs of refugees. Actual incidents, such as the Berlin-Attack or the mass assaults on women in Cologne and Hamburg on New Years Eve 2015, do, of course, not make the situation any less difficult. But it’s not only the AfD and its supporters that spread Fake-News in Germany. There is a whole haystack of unrelated Fake-News providers out there. Often, respective site owners don’t actually care about the truthfulness of their site’s contents, as their sites are a mere business to generate income through ads.

The good news is that numerous media outlets, federal and state officials and municipalities, as well as actors from the civil society, are engaging in defusing the explosive that is Fake-News. Whether their efforts will succeed in assuring a more rationally and truthfully fought election campaign in 2017 remains to be seen. Website-owners such as companies like Facebook and Twitter have yet to prove that they will make good on their promises to fight the distribution of Fake-News in their networks.

Voting in Germany – Elections – Wahlen

Voting in Germany - Elections - Wahlen
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Elections seem to be really trendy at the moment. 2016 had a rather big one and 2017 will see important elections in the Netherlands, France, and Germany. So, we thought we’d take a look the German electoral system. In the light of recent events, it’s particularly interesting to compare it to the US-System.

The Federal Structure of Germany

First of all, it’s important to know that the German political landscape consists of more than two major parties. Parties that pretty much constantly play a role in recent German politics are the conservative CDU (and its sister the CSU), the social-democratic SPD, the green party, the (neo-) liberal FDP, the socialist party “Die Linke”, and the right-wing newcomers from the AfD. Germany is split up into 16 federal states with different voting laws. Though those differences are minor in nature, e.g. concerning the legal voting age in communal elections etc.

Different Types of Elections

Which brings us to the different types of elections. There are, of course, elections for the Bundestag, the German parliament, which in turn picks the Chancellor. There is a 5% hurdle that bars too many smaller parties from entering parliament, thus preventing the creation of a working government to be overly complicated up to impossible. The coalition with the most seats in the Bundestag can form the Government. On the ballots, voters can make two kinds of crosses. With the first vote they are supporting a specific candidate from their electoral district, who in the case of success is being sent to the Bundestag. The second cross is a direct vote for one of the listed parties. Basically, the direct party-votes decide the proportions of the seat arrangement in the Bundestag. If a party has amassed fewer votes then district candidates, the candidates go through to the Bundestag anyway. This means that the number of representatives in the Bundestag may change with every election. As in other EU-Countries, non-citizens are not permitted to vote the Bundestag they are however allowed to vote the local assembly. The Bundestag is elected every four years and, interestingly enough, there is no limit of terms for the German Chancellor.

Fun fact: The Bundeskanzler (Chancellor), though being the government leader and the most powerful politician in the country is not the highest political office when it comes to protocol. Officially, the President (Bundespräsident) and the President of the Bundestag outrank the Chancellor. In reality, the office of the President is only a formal one, which almost doesn’t bestow any powers onto the person holding it. The President of the Bundestag is more of a manager of the Bundestag.

Federal Elections

Of course, Germans also elect their respective federal parliaments. Organizational forms and names can vary from state to state, but overall the election process, as well as the function of parliament and government, are roughly the same. Still, state-ballots can look a lot different than the ones for the Bundestag. Regularly, citizens are prompted to vote in a referendum on specific state matters, whereas referendums are rarely ever held on a national level. The state parliament-terms last for five years and state elections are seldom held on the same date, which essentially means that there often are fluid slight power shifts throughout a government term.

Further elections include the aforementioned local elections, in which vote members of communal assemblies and representatives for state parliaments. And as all other EU-Citizens, Germans take part in the election of the European Parliament every five years.

In the end, German campaigns and elections are a lot less entertaining than American ones, but then again that might not be a bad thing as it seems that even such spectacle cannot raise voter turnout significantly.

The major German Parties – Part Two

German Party Politics
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CSU – Christlich Soziale Union Bayerns

The CSU is a particular case in German politics. On the federal government level, the party is part of the CDU/CSU fraction and thus of the German government. It acts as sister party to the CDU, but is more traditionalistic, conservative and currently takes a hard drift towards the right. The CSU is only running in Bavaria and has been ruling the Federal State since its foundation in 1945 (except for four years in the 1950’s). The CDU forwent from creating a fraction in the Bavarian parliament and in turn the CSU backs its policy on the federal level, plus it is repeatedly awarded government offices. Currently, though, the CSU behaves as sort of an opposition within the government as it consistently opposes the chancellor openly.

Die Linke – The Left

Die Linke is the most successful left-wing political party in Germany. It’s a fusion of two major left parties. The Left was created in 2007 when the largest western German and the successor to the GDR’s SED-PDS merged. The SED-past of many members and of the party itself was often a source of criticism of the party’s policies. Die Linke itself is furthermore caught in a constant struggle between the moderates and the more radical members. Some of the party’s internal issues can lead back to its history. In some eastern German states, Die Linke used to be comparatively stable and was even part of state governments. On a federal level, the left never made it past the opposition. While the moderates have long tried to make the party an option for a coalition of SPD, Bündnis 90/Die Grünen and Die Linke, the AFD surprisingly manages to steal many of Die Linke’s votes in eastern Germany.

FDP – Freiheitlich Demokratische Partei Deutschlands

The liberal FDP is a good example for the changeability of the German political landscape in recent years. Founded in 1948, the party was elected into all German parliaments since 1949, until 2013, when it didn’t manage to make the 5% threshold of the Bundestag. This event threw the party into a deep crisis, from which it, since then, is trying to recover. Traditionally acting as the number one junior partner for the CDU, the FDP managed to reach a few successes in polls and state elections, feeding hopes for the party to return to the German parliament in 2017. 

AFD – Alternative für Deutschland

A lot has been written and said about the AFD. In its short existence, it managed to stir the political pot in the country, pulling voters from all other parties as well as the so-called protest-voters, and people who did not previously vote. Additionally, the AFD allied with the racist and islamophobe PEGIDA-movement. Since its foundation in 2014, it managed to get into 8 State Parliaments as well as into the European Parliament. The party started out as a mono-topical anti-Euro movement, but quickly turned into a hardline conservative and then an openly far-right party. But, maybe owed to the AFD’s relative youth, the party still doesn’t appear as a united body. Particularly in western states, the party seems a lot more moderate than in the eastern states. Compared to its youth and size, the AFD is extremely successful in making itself heard.

NPD – Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands

The NPD, founded in 1964, is the unofficial successor to Hitler’s NSDAP. The party’s program is openly racist, and it has many ties to Neo-Nazis all over Germany. Just like Die Linke, it is under constant surveillance by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution. Over the course of its existence, there have been numerous attempts to have the party dissolved and prohibited by the constitutional court. Recently the NPD suffered heavily under the rise of the AFD and has now lost all seats in state parliaments.

Check out Part One here!

The major German Parties – Part One

The major German Parties - Part One
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There are numerous differences between the Anglo-American style of democracy and the German way of organizing legislature, but one of the most obvious ones is the number of relevant parties. Now, it’s of course not a valid method to put the British and the American model on the same end of the range of democratic systems, but for the sake of argument, let’s do it anyway. Aside from the very different democratic institutions, both systems share the presence of two major parties, with all other existing parties being virtually nonessential. From afar it’s quite easy to forget that there are green parties in England or the United States, for example. Germany, however, has a tradition of a high number of visible and audible parties that struggle for election into the parliament, with usually about four to six parties ending up there. Even though the past decades saw only a few changes regarding who is making up the house, there still were changes. While there are thousands of political parties throughout Germany and some of them even make it to local or federal state governments and parliaments, let us take a look at only the most “important” ones – the parties that shaped the history of the Federal Republic of Germany (especially after the Reunification in 1990).

The SPD – Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands

The social democrats are the oldest, still active major political party in Germany. It even predates the first German Republic, the Weimarer Republik, and recently celebrated its 125th anniversary. Even though our current government consists of a so-called “great coalition” of the SPD and the CDU, the social democrats have been the biggest rivals of the CDU since its foundation in 1945. Famous German chancellors such as Helmut Schmidt and Willy Brandt have risen from the Ranks of the party. But it seems as if the glorious times of the SPD are behind the party. Even though it is part of various Federal State governments and the current German one as well, it hasn’t been the leading part of a national government in quite a while and has been continuously losing votes on all fronts for years.

The CDU – Christlich Demokratische Union Deutschlands

The Christian Democrats are Angela Merkel’s party. Before Merkel, who could run for her fourth successive term in 2017, the last CDU-chancellor was Helmut Kohl, who served three consecutive terms. One could safely assume, that the CDU was the steering power in German politics since before the Reunification. While the SPD could be the German equivalent of the US-Democrats, the CDU would serve as our version of the Republicans. Therefore the CDU is a conservative party, though one has to say that both CDU and SPD moved towards each other in recent years, making it more difficult for voters to spot the differences between the two. While the CDU, successor to the Zentrum-party which the National Socialists in the Third Reich forbade, has been the most successful party for a while now, the last couple of years saw its influence on a Federal State level dwindle. Today, there is only one Federal CDU-Government left in Germany.

Bündnis 90/Die Grünen – The Green Party

When Green Party delegates were first elected into the German parliament in 1983, they caused quite an upheaval. Everything from their looks to their agendas was troublesome to the traditional inhabitants of the sacred halls of German politics. The party, which is in itself a fusion of two green parties, was a direct result of growing anti-nuclear and anti-pollution protest movements in the 1980’s as well as social movements from the 1970’s. While the party developed into a rather social and left-wing party, it also drew more conservative members in its earlier days. Starting out as a protest party, Bündnis 90/Die Grünen became the go-to junior partner for the SPD. Over the course of the last two decades, the party underwent some broad changes and distanced itself from its earlier incarnations. Today the green party even runs the government in Baden-Württemberg, a traditionally conservative state. Though, one has to say that this green head of state is probably more conservative than some CDU-members.

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