Country Profiles from the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia
Edited by B. Guy Peters, Patrick von Maravić and Eckhard Schröter
Chapter 7: Representative bureaucracy in Germany? From passive to active intercultural opening
One in five persons – 16 million – living in Germany today is an immigrant. Reacting to the labor shortage from the economic boom of the 1960s (Wirtschaftswunder), the German government invited people from Turkey, Yugoslavia, Portugal, and Spain to work in Germany. After the fall of the “iron curtain” in 1989 the majority emigrated from Turkey and the former Soviet Republic. Today, Germany is economically dependent on immigrant labor and the demographic situation is one of an aging society that lacks specialists for certain jobs. Immigration has not always been commonly accepted but subject to fierce political debates; “multicultural” is often used derogatorily. Conservatives use the word to emphasize the alleged failings and illusions of the liberal left – the Green Party and some Social Democrats – and hold the latter responsible for today’s integration problems. Although immigration is still a controversial political topic, the Citizenship Act (2000) and the Immigration Act (2005) are landmarks in a slow and incremental policy change that has lasted for more than three decades and led to more liberal immigration policies (Schönwälder, 2010).
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