Sixteen ways of becoming German? Territorial inequalities in the implementation of German citizenship policy

About this Session


Wed. 10.04. 15:25



Authors – Christina Isabel Zuber, Gerald Schneider

Abstract :

Citizenship remains one of the last areas of exclusive competence of the nation state. However, naturalization requests can be handled more or less restrictively by administrators at lower levels of government, allowing for territorial inequalities in the implementation of one and the same citizenship policy. This article assesses this phenomenon for Germany, a key migrant destination where citizenship policy is decided by the national, but executed by regional and local governments. We place particular emphasis on the allowance of dual citizenship for third-country (non-EU) nationals. The German citizenship law of the year 2000 requires third-country nationals to renounce their previous citizenship upon naturalization, but frontline officials can grant exemptions from this rule. Mapping the share of Turks who gained German and kept Turkish citizenship shows considerable variation both across and within German states. Our analysis tests whether this variance can be explained with the political preferences of subnational governments, since German center-right parties are opposed, while center-left parties are in favor of dual citizenship.