YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

German Liberals Push Agenda in Kohl Coalition


BONN — As Chancellor Helmut Kohl began talks to rebuild his wobbly coalition government on Thursday, his partners from the liberal Free Democratic Party issued a call for dual citizenship and voting rights for the 6.9 million foreigners living in Germany.

Cornelia Schmalz-Jacobsen, a Free Democrat and the government's representative for the interests of foreigners, said Germany should do away with its so-called blood laws that require German ancestry to secure German citizenship.

"We will be pressing hard on these issues," Schmalz-Jacobsen said at a news conference. "Our statistics show that foreigners in Germany have become a fixed part of our population. This fact should force a radical new appraisal of our attitude toward them."

Her comments appeared to mark the start of a campaign by her party for more liberal social policies from the coalition government. The Free Democrats took a beating in the Oct. 16 federal election--and in nine state elections in the last year--and are casting about to rebuild a liberal image.

Kohl is negotiating a governing program with the Free Democrats. The government, with the Free Democrats, has only a 10-seat majority in the 672-seat Parliament scheduled to convene Nov. 10.

The issue of foreigners' rights is problematic for Kohl, who also cannot afford to lose votes from the conservative wing of his Christian Democratic Party and the right wing in its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union.

They are more interested in law-and-order issues, whereas the liberals oppose conservative proposals to allow for wiretapping in criminal cases, such as drug-trafficking. Kohl needs to negotiate a program that will keep both wings in the coalition.

Germany does not now recognize dual citizenship. Foreign-born adults must live in Germany for 15 years before they may seek citizenship, and children born in Germany of foreign parents must wait 10 years and relinquish any other citizenship.

In the report, Schmalz-Jacobsen said 100,000 children were born to foreign parents in Germany last year, and there are now 6.9 million foreigners living in Germany--up about 400,000 from a year ago.

Los Angeles Times Articles