Hessian SPD’s Election Program Amendment on Local Voting Rights for Non-EU Foreigners

The Hessian SPD made a significant correction to its election program on Tuesday evening, specifically regarding the reform of local electoral law for non-EU foreign nationals. The original proposal suggested that foreigners not originating from EU member states would gain the right to vote in local elections after residing in Hessian municipalities for six months. However, a clarification was issued due to a “transmission error” on the party’s part, amending the period to six years.

Initially, led by top candidate Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser, the Hessian SPD advocated granting local voting rights to non-EU foreigners residing in Hessian municipalities for more than six months, as reported by the “Bild” newspaper on Tuesday morning.

At lunchtime, an SPD spokesperson described it as a “long-term political goal,” emphasizing that the federal state alone could not enact such a change, and the involvement of the federal government was necessary. However, later in the afternoon, the spokesperson, as reported by “Bild,” acknowledged “a real, stupid mistake” and corrected the stance in the evening.

The party acknowledged that it was, in fact, an “editorial error” for which they issued an apology. Christoph Degen, the General Secretary of the Hesse SPD, expressed deep regret for the confusion this error caused among the public, characterizing the wording in the election program as “simply wrong.”

Degen clarified that the demand for local voting rights should only apply to individuals with a permanent residence permit, excluding refugees before obtaining permanent recognition. It’s worth noting that foreigners from EU countries have had the right to vote in local elections in Germany for over 30 years.

The SPD claimed to have corrected the error in the election program published online and added a note to transparently communicate the change.

The initial proposal by the Hesse SPD received sharp criticism from the Union, FDP, and AfD. Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) deemed the six-month proposal as an “absurd idea” and emphasized the need for effective immigration control rather than expanding voting rights.

CSU regional group leader Alexander Dobrindt expressed concerns that the initiative would further polarize Germany and negatively impact the public mood.

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