BERLIN (Reuters) - Prosecutors are investigating the editor of one of Germany’s most respected newspapers for suspected fraud after he blurted out on television that he had used his dual nationality to vote twice in Sunday’s EU polls.
“I voted twice,” said Giovanni di Lorenzo, editor in chief of weekly liberal newspaper Die Zeit, during a high-profile talk show on Sunday night following the European Parliament election.
“I’m allowed to vote twice because I have two passports,” added di Lorenzo, who claims Italian and German nationality. He was sitting alongside Finance Minister and former Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble who shook his head in response.
After Hamburg prosecutors said they opened an investigation for possible election fraud on Monday, Di Lorenzo told mass daily Bild newspaper he had not known that he could only vote in one country in the EU election.
Yet his own newspaper ran a story last week about EU citizens with two passports, many of whom were likely to be registered in two countries and might have trouble deciding in which state to vote. It said they were only allowed to cast one ballot.
Voter turnout across the European Union was 48.1 percent.
Di Lorenzo’s unprompted admission started a discussion on dual citizenship on the talk show, a hot topic in Germany, where Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives have long argued it is impossible to be loyal to two countries at the same time.
Based on a criminal law that prohibits “unauthorized voting or causing an incorrect result or falsifying the result of an election”, Di Lorenzo could face imprisonment of up to five years or a fine, but Schaeuble said on Sunday:
“Everyone can only vote once during an election. You’ll know for next time. You won’t have to go to jail for it.”
Reporting by Annika Breidthardt and Hans-Edzard Busemann; Editing by Erik Kirschbaum/Ruth Pitchford