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ID 30572
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Election of Foreigners' Advisory Council of Munich and Reexamination of Discourses Concerning Election from Viewpoint of Social Geography <Article>
creator
Yamamoto, Kenji
NDC
General geography. Description and travel
abstract
The purpose of this paper is to describe the realities of elections concerning Foreigners' Advisory Council of Munich (FACM) and to reexamine discourses on the very low and falling voting rate in the 1990s. Munich is one of the leading cities that have allowed foreign residents to participate in the local political decision-making processes within the framework of the German and Bavarian laws. Although these did not give suffrage in the local politics to foreign residents, the Munich City Council established a Foreign Advisory Council in 1974 in order to absorb their voices on the daily problems in this city and to make their living conditions better.

The FACM does not have the right to decide on any local political issues. Nevertheless it can give advice and recommendations to the City Council, as well as to the city administrative authorities. The Munich city authority has the duty to respond to any advice and recommendations within a given time span. Therefore, this institution is very important for the social and political integration of foreign residents.

The FACM members were nominated by the association of trade unions and several associations engaging in social activities with foreign residents in Munich. The FACM consists not only of foreigners, but also includes German members. In the mid 1980s, voices were heard appealing for direct election of FACM members by foreign residents on the basis of universal suffrage. Through long-term discussions, it was finally achieved in 1991. However, the voting rate was only 20.3 percent in the first direct election of the FACM members. The second direct election was conducted in 1997 and its voting rate drastically decreased to 9.85%.

Meanwhile, foreign citizens from EU member countries have experienced suffrage in the local politics in 1995 according to a EU directive and legislation from Germany and Bavaria. Greeks, who had actively participated in the 1991 election of the FACM, seemed to lose their interest in this organization, because this does not have competence in deciding any political issues in the City Council. They now have active as well as passive election rights with respect to the City Council. The second and third generations of immigrants seem to feel alienation in the name of the organization, because they regard themselves not as Ausländer (people out of this land) but Inländer (people of this land). The stronger residential fluctuation of foreigners seems to contribute to the very low voting rate. The cooling down of confrontation among some groups within a same nation also contributes to the decrease in voting rates according to a sociologist.

It is true that all these discourses can explain the phenomena to some degree. However, we should take into consideration some of the social geographical facts in order to properly explain it. First, the successful candidates did not always have their supporters in their own residential ward. They often got their votes from several wards scattered throughout Munich. This fact suggests that the voters were not necessarily acquaintances of the successful candidates. Second, the voting rate is in general higher in areas where the ratios of Turks and of Yugoslays are higher than the foreign population, although the voting rate of Turks and Yugoslays was also absolutely low. On the other hand, Italians and Austrians already did not show interest in the FACM election in 1991. There were always some lists (groups of candidates who have the same opinion) within a same national group, such as the Turks, Greeks, and former Yugoslavs. In particular, the Turks formed very different lists within their own nationality. These facts suggest that only some specific groups within some specific nations show interest in the FACM election.

The FACM election system has become a little bit complicated because of an idealistic thought of democracy. It is not easy for the electorate to judge which list and which candidate is to be voted into, because there was not a great difference among about twenty lists, and because the number of candidates amounted to more than 600 in 1991 and 450 in 1997. The electorate may vote not to a list but to specific candidates from several different lists. It is, however, very difficult for the electorate with a bounded rationality to choose candidates appropriate for the forty seats in the FACM only on the basis of official information on each candidate. Those who are interested in the FACM election might be specific groups of foreigners either who felt discrimination in the Munich society or who are very idealistic democrats.
journal title
Annual Report of Research Center for Regional Geography
issue
Issue 15
start page
69
end page
102
date of issued
2006-03-31
publisher
広島大学総合地誌研究資料センター
issn
0915-5449
ncid
language
jpn
nii type
Departmental Bulletin Paper
HU type
Departmental Bulletin Papers
DCMI type
text
format
application/pdf
text version
publisher
department
Hiroshima University Museum
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