Why does there have to be multiple citizenship

SVP wants to abolish dual citizenship

With advances in the National Council and in three cantons, the SVP wants to increase the obstacles to naturalization. The first decisions will be made soon.

Is a Swiss citizen who did not give up his previous citizenship at the time of naturalization loyal to his new home country? Probably not - this is the conclusion reached by a growing number of SVP politicians. Driven by this latent distrust, for example, National Councilor Rino Büchel wanted to know from the Federal Council in November how many dual citizens were doing armed service in the Border Guard. The SVP representative from St. Gallen also asked the state government whether these border guards could have "problems with loyalty".

Feared of loyalty conflicts

Büchel's parliamentary group colleague Peter Keller also has little trust in Swiss people who also have a foreign passport. He sounded the alarm when he got wind of plans that the Department of Foreign Affairs wanted to allow multiple citizens to join the diplomatic service in the future. The Nidwalden National Council identified "inevitably significant conflicts of interest" if, for example, a Swiss-Italian dual citizen had to negotiate the tax agreement with Italy.

In both cases, the Federal Council reassured the questioners. The 5 percent of the members of the border guard with multiple passports would not have any problems or loyalty conflicts in practice. The state government told Keller that a change to the personnel law was being discussed, but that the diplomatic service had not yet been opened.

If the People's Party has its way, such discussions should no longer take place in the future. The SVP simply wants to ban dual citizenship in Switzerland. In the cantons of Basel-Landschaft, Zug and Nidwalden, SVP parliamentarians are calling for professional initiatives to be submitted so that the federal government can amend the civil rights law accordingly. In the National Council, motionary Lukas Reimann (svp., St. Gallen) demands that, in particular, citizens of countries that do not allow Swiss citizens to have dual citizenship for their part should not be granted dual citizenship. Instead of the automatic dual citizenship right, the St. Gallen SVP man wants to introduce the option model, in which in future those who want to be naturalized will have to choose a single citizenship. The first decisions on civil rights will be made soon. The Zug Cantonal Council will deal with the issue next Thursday, and the Nidwalden District Administrator will be on the move on September 2nd.

The justifications in the various advances are similar. Dual citizenship undermines loyalty to Switzerland and is detrimental to integration, it is claimed. Lukas Reimann assumes that dual citizenship is chosen “mostly for opportunistic reasons”. In addition, it is argued that dual citizenship enables abuse in social services, since it is difficult to carry out controls in two countries. The Nidwalden Motion speaks of “frequent examples of dual citizens who receive unjustified social benefits from Switzerland in their home country”.

Alleged social abuse

At least the Nidwalden government is not aware of such abuses, as it writes in its response to the initiative. The social assistance benefits are tied to the place of residence in a municipality and are not paid out beyond the municipality, let alone abroad. "The entitlement to social security benefits is not related to the (double or single) citizenship of a recipient," says Karin Kayser, the Nidwalden judicial director.

Swiss abroad attentive

Anyone wishing to obtain a Swiss passport had to renounce foreign citizenship until 1992, “as far as it was reasonable under the circumstances”. Naturalized citizens have been able to keep their previous passport for 23 years. As the Federal Council writes in its answer to Reimann's proposal, the unrestricted dual citizenship has proven its worth and "has not led to any significant problems". According to the 2000 census, 8.6 percent of all Swiss citizens had dual citizenship, which at that time corresponded to around 500,000 people. There are no more recent figures because the Federal Statistical Office only knows Swiss citizens and does not make any surveys as to whether they still have a second passport.

The Organization of the Swiss Abroad (OSA) does not enjoy the SVP plans, after all, over 73 percent of the approximately 750,000 Swiss citizens living abroad are dual citizens. Sarah Mastantuoni is convinced that it is enriching to have several citizenships: “Swiss people who live abroad and are naturalized there feel no less than Swiss. I not only notice that at the August 1st celebrations, ”says the co-director of the OSA. How foreign states would react to the abolition of the automatic dual citizenship right cannot be estimated. However, Switzerland is unlikely to gain any sympathy points.

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