The Berlin FDP does not rule out agreeing to an extended right to vote for foreigners in state and local elections. Immediately after the summer break, the MPs from the SPD, Greens and Left want to devote themselves to reforming the state election law, as first reported by the “Berliner Morgenpost”.

The voting age could fall from 18 to 16 later this year. However, this constitutional change is only possible because the FDP supports this goal politically – and can thus secure the necessary two-thirds majority in the House of Representatives.

Now the coalition partners from the SPD, the Greens and the Left are also discussing giving non-Germans the right to vote in a new state election law. Almost 800,000 foreigners live in Berlin, some of whom have been there for decades, and have not had the right to vote. After the summer, the deputies of the government factions want to launch a Federal Council initiative to put active state and local voting rights for foreigners on a federal footing.

Because the initiative in the Bundesrat will probably not get past the CDU, MP Sebastian Schlüsselburg (left) does not rule out a push on state law. This would lead to a faster clarification before the Federal Constitutional Court.

In the FDP, the right to vote for foreigners – beyond EU citizens – is seen much more critically than lowering the voting age. “At the federal level, we as the FDP would rather encourage and facilitate naturalization,” said Björn Jotzo, parliamentary director of the Berlin Liberals, the Tagesspiegel.

At the state level, however, there is still no decision on the subject. Because there has not yet been any specific draft resolution or request from Red-Green-Red, his parliamentary group has not yet reached an agreement, said Jotzo. The topic may be discussed at a parliamentary group meeting on September 13th.

In the largest opposition party, the CDU, the considerations of the coalition members triggered sharp criticism. Group leader Kai Wegner called it “just as hectic as it is dubious” and “a transparent maneuver” on Thursday to want to change the electoral law shortly before a possible repeat election. The SPD, the Greens and the Left are planning a “blanket right to vote for everyone” regardless of citizenship, said Wegner. That is unlawful.

At the end of September, Berlin’s constitutional court will decide whether the super election day in September last year must be repeated in whole or in part after serious breakdowns occurred in numerous polling stations. Youth politicians from the SPD, Greens and Left want 16 and 17-year-olds to be able to vote when there are by-elections. According to coalition lawyers like Schlüsselburg, however, this is very unlikely because the same basic principles would then no longer exist as in the 2021 election.