I’ve lived in German for only about a year. Next Sunday, I’m already gonna vote in German elections. All thanks to my UE-citizenship.
There are four levels of elections here:
- municipal (in case of Berlin it doesn’t mean the whole city, but its 12 districts)
- country (one of 16 Bundesländer, including Berlin as a whole)
- federal (Germany)
- European (EP)
Thanks to the Article 22 of the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union, I can vote in the elections on the first and the latter level. And that’s, obviously, awesome. But it’s not enough.
I live here, I intend to stay here, and German politics will always have an impact on me, whether I like it or not. So of course I’d like to have an impact on what’s happening in this country. Especially, when Merkel displays her homphobia, and the neonazi AfD keeps on getting new votes...
But only in a limited way can I oppose that. My friends without EU-citizenship cannot at all. I can, however, vote as much as I want in the Polish elections.
My home is in Germany. My job is here. My pension fund is here. My health insurance is here. My taxes are here. My boyfriend is here. My plans for the future are here.
My vote, however, is in Poland. Where’s the logic in that?
I did, of course, use that vote to help my Polish friends with fight agains PiS (with no success, alas). But the point remains: why am I allowed to influence lives of other people, who I only share a passport with, while in the country where all my life actually is, I have next to nothing to say?
Sure, if we simply allowed people to vote anywhere they currently live, all the elections will be rigged by crowds making political holidays in other countries. But after a year or two of living there? Who would spend that much time abroad, just to cast a single vote?
So far the only way for me to have a say in who governs me is to become a German (or moving somewhere else). And I happily will become a German! It will, however, take another seven years. Yup, Germany requires eight years of living here, before you are allowed to take citizenship test. Longest in EU. Until then, I might end up not wanting to live here anymore.
The idea of countries not letting go of their citizens or giving high expectations to become one, is plain stupid. The institution of country is a necessity to organize our lives, sure, but why does that have to mean that we are slaves to the country we were born in? It shouldn’t be a matter of luck, whether you’re one of the people living in Germany who are allowed to vote in Germany, or not.