Two weeks ago, in a monumental victory for liberalism and democracy, the German Bundestag approved wide-ranging reforms to our citizenship laws. The upshot is that it is now vastly easier to obtain a German passport. You need only three to five years of legal residence and you no longer have to renounce your prior nationality. What makes these reforms so especially humanitarian and democratic is that they were passed in particular to
secure more immigrant votes for Leftist parties express our gratitude for that generation of guest workers who came to Germany from Turkey beginning in the 1950s, many of whom have avoided naturalisation because they wish to retain Turkish citizenship. The Turkish Community in Germany expects 50,000 Turks to apply for citizenship this year and every year thereafter. At a minimum, therefore, German democracy can expect to increase by 50,000 democratic units annually, until all 1.5 million non-German Turks have been naturalised.
Never have we been so democratic, and never have we faced such dire anti-democratic threats. You could be forgiven for concluding that our democracy is a mysterious and mercurial god, who thrived best when we paid him the least attention, and who seems increasingly liable to withdraw his favours now that we will never leave him alone. Thus we find ourselves debating seriously whether to prohibit democratically elected parties to defend our august democracy, and our extremely democratic citizenship reforms have likewise yielded their first antidemocratic symptoms.
Highly inconvenient for our citizenship liberalisation is the fact that the vast majority of politically interested Turks living in Europe support what our democratic minders tell us is the “Right-wing populist” AK Party of the “authoritarian” Turkish president Recep Erdoğan. In the elections last May, over 65% of the German Turkish vote fell in favour of Erdoğan and his programme of “totalitarianism” and “despotism”. Our press was beside itself. “Why do Turkish voters, especially in European countries where they enjoy democracy and freedom of opinion, vote for the autocratic Erdoğan?” they asked. The earnest naïveté is so intense, I fear it will burn a hole through my computer screen.
Now that many of these Turks are suddenly eligible for German citizenship and will be voting in ever greater numbers in German elections, the feared AK Party is planning to establish an offshoot right here in the Federal Republic. It will be called the Democratic Alliance for Diversity and Awakening (DAVA), and it hopes to field candidates for the EU elections in June. In this way, Turkey may achieve proxy representation in the EU parliament, even though Turkey is not in the EU!
DAVA says it will fight to ensure that “people with foreign roots” in Europe are “granted their rights in full”. These rights naturally include “social benefits” and “a pragmatic refugee policy free of ideology”. A foreign power, in other words, hopes to found within Germany its own political operation to keep entitlements flowing to its citizens and to keep our borders open so that its influence base can expand still further. This democracy that we are building is truly an amazing thing; it reminds one of a snake so open to novel culinary experiences that it finally eats its own tail, or of a robot programmed only to unplug itself.
Naturally, our democratic priesthood are very worried about this new threat to democracy born of their own resolutely democratic commitments. They also seem a little bit puzzled. SPD chief Saskia Esken, whose party helped devise and pass the citizenship reforms that make DAVA possible, now pleads vaguely that “we will not allow the divisive tendencies of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to play a role here“. How we will not allow that, she does not say. It seems highly anti-democratic to prevent Turkish-German citizens from founding their own political parties, but maybe it would have been even more anti-democratic to retain our old rules against dual nationality. As Spinoza taught us, when faced with two anti-democratic paths, it is better to take the lesser one, even if via an eminently foreseeable chain of events that path leads to more anti-democracy in the future. Democracy is very complicated, especially if you are Saskia Esken.
Green parliamentarian Max Lucks for his part is shocked, just shocked, at these developments:
It is of course shocking that a party is emerging that questions the achievements of the European Convention on Human Rights. And this party is guilty of an outrageous double standard, because on the one hand Mr. Erdoğan’s supporters, and therefore also DAVA, are questioning the European Convention on Human Rights when it comes to political prisoners in Turkey, yet it is precisely this convention that is important, for example, to protect people of Turkish origin in Germany from racism. And there is only one party in Germany so far that has questioned the European Convention on Human Rights in this way, and that is the AfD. That is why, in my view, we are dealing with a Turkish-speaking AfD here.
So, according to Lucks, German Turks should insist on enforcing the European Convention on Civil Rights in non-European Turkey because the European Convention on Civil Rights protects them from the racism monster in Germany. It is an interesting window into the man’s psychology. Perhaps though, because Turks are not Europeans, they simply don’t identify with the European Convention on Human Rights, either in Germany or anywhere else. I know that may sound crazy, but the vast majority of the world’s population is not especially liberal. Perhaps they are happy to vote for Left-leaning parties in Germany and the social entitlements these parties promise them, but they are not so willing to support the Left in Turkey. Perhaps they think Leftism might be a bad thing for their native land. Perhaps many Turks who resettle in Germany retain their Turkishness and do not automatically become Germans upon receiving German passports. These are just crazy racist ideas, but I put them out there anyway for your consideration.
One thing is certain: the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution is going to be very busy in the years to come. There will be a lot of suspending democracy to do, lest democracy destroy itself.