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Swiss MP: foreigners ‘should renounce citizenship to become Swiss’

Should foreign nationals be forced to give up their citizenship if they want to become Swiss?

Swiss MP: foreigners ‘should renounce citizenship to become Swiss’
Photo: Matthieu Alexandre/AFP
That’s what some right-wing MPs have suggested in parliament. 
 
Swiss People's Party (SVP) MP Erich Hess spoke out against the system of dual nationality, which currently allows foreigners to keep their original nationality when they become Swiss citizens, reported 20 Minutes
 
Those who keep their original nationality may not be fully committed to Switzerland, said Hess, adding they “should choose which country they love” to prove they are well integrated.
 
He also criticized the fact dual nationals get benefits that regular Swiss citizens do not get, for example they can more easily get work permits and welfare benefits in their second country of citizenship. 
 
However the MP’s words were derided by others, including Liberal-Radical Cedric Wemuth, who said it would be “absurd” to force people to choose Switzerland over their foreign nationality, reported 20 Minutes. 
 
“There are people who are linked to several countries. That doesn’t make them bad Swiss,” he said.
 
Having citizens with double nationality can even be an advantage for Switzerland, he added, saying that often dual nationals spread a positive image of Switzerland in their ‘other’ nation.
 
Some other European countries including Austria do force foreigners to renounce their current citizenship when they are naturalized. 
 
The debate arose in the Swiss parliament ahead of a referendum on February 12th when the Swiss public will vote on whether to make it easier for third generation immigrants to become Swiss.
 
That initiative is strongly opposed by the SVP and their allies, some of whom have fought a combative campaign with controversial posters showing a woman in a burqa. Critics of the posters argue they are misleading because the new law would mostly concern non-Muslim Italians who have lived in Switzerland their whole lives and are well integrated. 
 
Unlike in some other countries, citizenship is not automatically conferred on a person who is born in Switzerland. Therefore if a person’s grandparents were immigrants, and their parents did not obtain Swiss citizenship, third generation immigrants could have been born in Switzerland and have lived here their whole lives without having Swiss citizenship. 
 
They can of course apply for it, but are subject to the same stringent conditions and lengthy process as everyone else. 
 
The February 12th referendum aims to decide if this process should be made simpler for them. 

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ZURICH

Zurich approves simplified path to Swiss citizenship

Voters in Switzerland’s most populous canton on Sunday approved a proposal which will make it easier for foreigners to get Swiss citizenship.

Zurich approves simplified path to Swiss citizenship

The vote passed with 69.1 percent support, making it the most popular of the four initiatives put to the polls. 

Around 350,000 foreigners live in Zurich, which is roughly one quarter of the population – although the percentage is as high as 50 percent in some municipalities. 

The successful proposal called for Zurich’s naturalisation process, including the citizenship exam, to be made uniform across all 162 municipalities. 

The questions in the exam will now be centralised on a cantonal level. 

The test will include 350 questions about Swiss history, tradition, politics and culture, with a focus on Zurich. 

Anyone taking the test will be given 50 questions at random and must answer at least 30 correctly to pass. 

More information about the citizenship process in Zurich can be found at the following link. 

EXPLAINED: How Zurich wants to make naturalisation easier

What else was decided on Sunday? 

Voters in Zurich also decided to reject a proposal to lower the voting age to 16, with 64.1 percent saying ‘nein’ to the proposal. 

A proposal to provide for more parental leave – and even up gender imbalances between fathers and mothers – was also rejected. 

Finally, voters supported law changes which sought to enshrine Zurich’s climate change goals in the cantonal constitution. 

A detailed breakdown of the vote can be seen here. 

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