“We are the People”: Alien Suffrage in German and American Perspective

This article will explore the constitutional debate over alien suffrage in the FRG, both for its own interest and in order to compare it with understandings of alien suffrage in the United States. As the interdependence of national economies deepens and regional “common market” arrangements multiply, more nations (including the United States) may be called upon to rethink the question of alien suffrage. The thoroughness and the explicitness with which the German legal community has debated this issue has brought to the surface arguments and assumptions that remain latent in U.S. commentary on the political status of aliens. Thus, the German dispute and its resolution not only mark a stage in the evolution of nationalism and unification in Europe, but illuminate the place of aliens in political theory and legal thought.