Swiss politician’s call to ban dual citizens from becoming MPs sparks anger

Swiss politician's call to ban dual citizens from becoming MPs sparks anger
SVP politician wants to ban dual nationals from being MPs. Photo by AFP
A deputy representing the rightwing Swiss People’s Party (SVP), claims MPs who hold dual nationality “don’t represent Switzerland’s best interests”. His comments have sparked anger.

SVP deputy Andreas Glarner told Sunday’s SonntagsZeitung that he is submitting a proposal to the parliament to make dual citizens ineligible to run for either the National Council or the Council of States — the two chambers that form the parliament.

The announcement follows a dispute that Glarner had in September with another MP, Sibel Arslan, who has both a Swiss and Turkish citizenship.

The two quarreled publicly when Arslan, Green Party member, defended climate protesters gathered in front on the Parliament Building in Bern. 

Glarner insulted Arslan in front of TV cameras, telling her that Switzerland is a nation of law and order, “something that doesn't exist in your country”.

His outburst sparked widespread criticism, including from his own party.

Party member Michael Frauchiger tweeted: “Arslan is an example of successful integration, and you, Andy, are a racist!”

READ MORE: Swiss canton accused of being 'too strict' with residence permits for foreigners 

A number of Swiss MPs have dual nationality, including an SVP deputy, Yvette Estermann, who grew up in the former Czechoslovakia.

“Dual citizenship in the parliament is not a problem”, she said. “It’s not a matter of your passport, but of what is in your heart”.

Another dual-national deputy, Yvonne Feri of Social Democratic Party, who has Swiss and Italian passports, said that she represents the interests of her constituents, “and not of Italy”.

Feri added that the parliament is a reflection of Switzerland, where nearly 25 percent of the population has foreign roots.

According to Rainer J. Schweizer, professor of constitutional law, implementing Glarner’s proposal would be problematic from a legal point of view.

He said a constitutional amendment would be needed to forbid dual citizens from running for national offices.

This could only be decided through a referendum.

And even then, the matter would not be resolved because the ban would conflict with the European Convention on Human Rights.

“The exclusion of dual citizens from the parliament would not be accepted because it would violate freedom of expression and the law against discrimination”, he said.
 


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