Political Asylum in Germany: International Norms and Domestic Politics

in German Politics and Society
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  • 1 University of Pennsylvania
  • 2 Northwestern University
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Although political asylum has been at the forefront of contemporary

German politics for over two decades, it has not been much discussed

in political science. Studying asylum is important, however,

because it challenges assertions in both comparative politics and

international relations that national interest drives decision-making.

Political parties use national interest arguments to justify claims that

only their agenda is best for the country, and governments argue

similarly when questions about corporatist bargaining practices arise.

More theoretically, realists in international relations have posited

that because some values “are preferable to others … it is possible to

discover, cumulate, and objectify a single national interest.” While

initially associated with Hans Morgenthau’s equating of national

interest to power, particularly in foreign policy, this position has

since been extended to argue that states can be seen as unitary rational

actors who carefully calculate the costs of alternative courses of

action in their efforts to maximize expected utility.

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