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Swiss MPs reject move to grant citizenship to foreigners born in Switzerland

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
Swiss MPs reject move to grant citizenship to foreigners born in Switzerland
Not everyone in Switzerland can display these flags on their window. Photo by Etienne Girardet on Unsplash

A motion to grant citizenship to foreigners born in Switzerland has been making rounds of the parliament for more than a year. It has finally been rejected.

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Unlike many other countries such as the United States or Canada, Switzerland doesn’t recognise the so-called “birthright citizenship” which automatically grants a Swiss passport to anyone born here.

If their parents were born abroad and still hold foreign passports, a person will not obtain Swiss citizenship by birth. 

Even though they have lived their entire lives in Switzerland, they have the same nationality as their parents and will continue to be considered as foreigners – until and unless they become naturalised.

In March 2021, two MPs have filed a motion asking that those born in Switzerland of foreign parents get a Swiss passport at birth.

READ MORE: Will Swiss-born foreigners be granted automatic citizenship?

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On Wednesday, the National Council rejected a similar parliamentary initiative to allow children born in Switzerland to foreign parents to become Swiss from the age of 18.

"A child who is born in Switzerland, speaks the language with the accent of their region, and follows the school path there should be able to benefit from the nationality of the country where he grew up; it’s just common sense”, said Green MP Delphine Klopfenstein Broggini.

While the proposal had the unanimous backing of left-wing parties, their conservative counterparts argued that “we must stick to our ‘birthright’ tradition”, according to Jean-Luc Addor, a deputy from the  right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP).

He added that “there can be no right to naturalisation without integration" and “the mere fact of being born in Switzerland and having grown up here is not always a sufficient to guarantee of integration”.

READ MORE: Reader question: Will my children get a Swiss passport if born in Switzerland?

The post-rejection debate incited “some brouhaha" in the chamber, according to Swiss media.

Asked by a Green MP Stefania Prezioso Batou about the difference between a Swiss and a foreigner who was born and educated in Switzerland, Addor replied: “The difference is that the Swiss are born Swiss!”.

"Life is made up of differences between men, between women, between Swiss, between foreigners, that's how it is", he said.

This is not the first attempt to grant citizenships to Swiss-born foreigners, nor the first rejection.

The Federal Council presented similar proposals three times — in 1983, 1994 and 2003. They  were supported by a large majority in parliament but nothing came out of them in the end.

“For almost 20 years nothing has happened and we have left the debate to those who always want more restrictions in this area. It’s time to go on the offensive again”, Mazzone noted.

READ MORE: Swiss MPs refuse to extend ‘fast track’ naturalisation to registered partners

 

 

 

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