I got a piece of mail today....from the Wiesbaden auslander office (the foreigner office). I have to keep registered with them....to maintain my visa deal in Germany.
So, they wanted me to know that election time is coming up and there is a council of sorts that is elected every five years to help represent the auslander population in Hessen (my local state). And being such an approved auslander (such as I am).....I am entitled to vote.
Naturally, it's hard enough to vote in US elections and these guys offer me another vote?
So, I opened the sample ballot deal and discovered that there's only ten parties in the mix. I can vote for a representative from the Polish Party, the Community of Italians, the Kurdish List, the Democratic Alternate List (it's all Turkish-sounding names on their ballot), the Syrian Democratic List, the Progressive Auslander Union (mostly Turkish-sounding names), the MigraMudi crowd (a multi-cultural crowd from Asia, Americas, Africa and Europe), the Academics List (Turkish-sounding names), DTIB (a Turkish-Islam group), and a multi-cultural party (mostly all Turks).
Out of the hundred-odd names listed under the ten parties....about seventy of them are Turkish, Syrian, or from the Middle East. There are a couple of Gino's....from Italy of course, and a couple of Polish guys.
I asked my wife (the German) for advice, and she noted that I have enough trouble with American politics and German politics....why would I ever get stupid enough to ask questions over auslander politics in Hessen? My wife is wise, so I'm probably going to listen to her.
But I sat there and thought....these are all people in some limbo....they aren't German yet....so to make them happy, the Hessens invented some office and has some folks who represent foreigners (auslanders) to make them feel like they are in the system and their vote counts for something.
How many people vote in something like this? Maybe five years ago...a couple thousand in the state. Presently, I'd take a guess that 200,000 folks in Hessen are in some visa limbo (they have a temp deal, a long term deal, or just not yet a German). The odd thing is that months will pass and eventually a fair number of these folks will be full-up Germans. Then what? Wouldn't they naturally go and become a Green Party, CDU Party or SPD Party member? To me, that would be the logical progress. By creating all these ethnic political parties.....you kinda lead people around and hope they stay with your party later. An influence in future city politics? That's the odd thing....you could have three thousand Kurds in Wiesbaden and eventually.....they'd likely become some swing-vote in city politics.....if you could keep people hyped up and interested in some power base.
I'll just file this away and try hard to limit myself to just plain American and German politics.