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PARLIAMENT

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

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.

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

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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SECURITY

Bern ends Swiss national day on alert as suspicious backpack found near parliament

Police in Bern are asking for witnesses after a security operation on the evening of Swiss national day, August 1st, in which a man who may have been armed left a backpack near the Swiss parliament building.

Bern ends Swiss national day on alert as suspicious backpack found near parliament
The Swiss parliament building. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
According to a police statement on Wednesday, at around 9.10pm on Tuesday evening police were notified that an armed man had left a backpack at the Cafe Fédéral on Bärenplatz in the centre of the Swiss capital. 
 
Witnesses said the man made threats against the public and then headed in the direction of the Bundesplatz, where the Swiss federal parliament building is located.
 
Police were able to find the man a few minutes later and arrested him.
 
For security reasons, the Bundesplatz, parts of the Bärenplatz and surrounding streets were blocked off by police before a robot device was sent in to secure the backpack.
 
It was finally removed from the scene and taken for further investigation. 
 
The police cordon was removed just after midnight.
 
Police have given no further details about the contents of the backpack, nor have they confirmed reports that the man was indeed armed.
 
Anyone who saw or heard the man at the Cafe or in the Bundesplatz should call police on 031 634 41 11.