Ausländerbeirat – An Immigrant’s Way into German Politics
written by A. L. Hart Havens on December 1, 2020
The recent Liberated Services essays on the German welfare system (Hartz IV) and German weapons laws (Kleiner Waffenschein) marked the first two in a series of articles by Liberated Services highlighting a wide range of fascinating, outrageous, and little‑known aspects of life in the full‑blown socialist Western European country of Germany. Today’s article, which marks the third installment of the series, sheds some light on the legally enshrined right afforded to immigrants to exert a direct influence on Germany’s local government policies.
Any German town with over 25,000 inhabitants will likely have an Ausländerbeirat – an elected foreigners’ advisory council that is afforded the express right to be heard on all local government and municipal matters. The stated missions of the over 400 councils throughout Germany tend to be vague, but the underlying theme effectively equates to left‑wing political doctrine cloaked as a righteous quest to defend immigrant rights and foster integration through cross‑cultural understanding.
A town’s Ausländerbeirat is typically expected to organize German-language lessons for immigrants and refugees and hold workshops aimed at fostering their familiarization with and acclimatization to German society, attitudes, and the laws of the land.
Low Enthusiasm and a Lack of Transparency
The main problem associated with the foreigners’ advisory councils is the extreme lack of enthusiasm that they enjoy among eligible voters. This can be seen in the consistently lackluster voter turnout throughout Germany as well as the frequent shortage of eligible candidates willing to participate.
Voter turnouts of 5% or lower are by no means out of the ordinary despite the fact that every registered foreigner automatically receives a notification letter and a ballot by mail translated into seemingly every foreign language under the sun. The problem has gotten so bad that a number of towns have been left with no choice but to dissolve their councils.
Additionally, the candidate lists rarely have any recognizable party affiliation or provide any specific insight into their campaign platform. As a result, it often proves to be impossible to distinguish the objectives of one candidate list from those of another.
Paid Volunteers, Ethnocentrism, and Enhanced Job Security
A keen observer will take note of the dubious arrangement allowing foreigners’ advisory council members to receive monetary compensation (often masked as reimbursement for expenses) despite the official designation of the posts as volunteer positions. Much to the irritation of the few vigilant taxpayers aware of the issue, a fixed stipend is provided to Ausländerbeirat council members on a monthly or per‑meeting basis irrespective of the actual expenses incurred.
Another challenge facing the institution of Ausländerbeirat councils is that elections, particularly those in major cities with large immigrant populations, often devolve into contests fought along ethnic lines with each candidate list representing the interests of a specific national, cultural, or religious group.
This type of ethnic wrangling is frequently lamented by local government officials as highly counterproductive to the German government’s integration efforts. Additionally, local officials have voiced numerous complaints about Ausländerbeirat candidates and elected council members who reportedly openly reject the German value system, which the German government touts as being rooted in social democracy and religious freedom.
An additional reason for otherwise unmotivated foreigners to pursue a seat on the Ausländerbeirat is the enhanced job security that council membership offers. Although it is already quite difficult to be fired in Germany for poor job performance, securing a seat on the foreigners’ advisory council provides its members with an added layer of legal protection against dismissal from their jobs.
Cruising to Victory
Officially registered adult residents of a town who hold the citizenship of a foreign country are typically eligible to vote and run for a seat on that town’s Ausländerbeirat. It makes no difference whether a candidate’s or voter’s foreign citizenship is that of an EU country or a non‑EU country. Elections are normally held every five years.
Foreigners with aspirations of getting involved in local German politics should feel emboldened to run for a seat on their town’s Ausländerbeirat. Given the extremely low voter turnout, even a half‑hearted ad‑placement campaign combined with minimal voter canvassing efforts would likely result in a candidate cruising to victory, especially in a small or mid‑sized town.
However, as the German government and media presumably would not take too kindly to a group of libertarian‑minded English‑speaking expats assuming control of a foreigners’ advisory council with the aim of lowering taxes and combatting wasteful spending, the newly elected council could quickly find itself portrayed as the latest beneficiary of Vladimir Putin’s diabolical worldwide election interference campaign.