Im Spannungsfeld zwischen staatlicher und lokaler Integrationspolitik: Politische Partizipation von Migranten in den Einwanderungsstädten Berlin und Wien


  • Michal Dimitrov Institute of International Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University in Prague


The Tension between State and Local Integration Policy: Political Participation of Migrants in the Cities of Immigration Berlin and Vienna Political participation is one of the key topics concerning integration of migrants: the right to vote and take part in the decision-making process in one’s country of residence is not only a basic democratic principle but also has symbolic value as an acknowledgement by the majority of migrants. However, in many new European immigration countries, such as Germany and Austria, the country’s nationals, EU citizens and third-country nationals possess vastly different political rights. This situation leads to a democratic and integration deficit, especially in major cities with large numbers of migrants that serve as primary places of integration. In addition, the exclusion of urban migrants from political participation causes tension between state and local integration policies, in particular under different political constellations at the national and local level. This article examines how local authorities in Berlin and Vienna have dealt with the challenge of increasing political participation of migrants. It shows that the local authorities in Berlin and Vienna try to develop their own naturalization policies and laws on local voting rights for migrants and establish migrant counseling bodies in order to advance political participation of migrants. Indeed, the issue of political participation rights for migrants is still being hotly debated not only between major political parties but also inside the political parties themselves. The article concludes by arguing that the debate on migrants’ political participation rights in Berlin and Vienna reflects the challenging transition process underway in both Germany and Austria from states based on ethnic heritage to de facto immigration countries.

Keywords: migrants, integration, political participation, local level, cities, Berlin, Vienna