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Why dual citizens in Switzerland are often seen as not 'Swiss' enough

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
Why dual citizens in Switzerland are often seen as not 'Swiss' enough
If you a dual citizen, you are legally Swiss. Image by H. B. from Pixabay

Legally speaking, when foreigners are naturalised, they are considered Swiss. But some people don't quite see it this way.


Dual citizens are foreigners who obtain citizenship of their country of residence while still maintaining the nationality of their place of origin.

In Switzerland, about 20 percent of the permanent resident population aged 15 or over has two passports — a Swiss one in addition to a foreign one.

While their home country still claims them as their own, on Swiss soil, they are regarded as citizens of Switzerland with all the rights and obligations this status commands.

So for all intents and purposes, from the legal perspective, these people are as ‘Swiss’ as their native counterparts.

However, not everyone in Switzerland sees it this way.

Here are some examples of situations when dual nationals were regarded as not ‘Swiss’ enough


As The Local reported in 2020, Swiss nationals with a migration background faced more obstacles when looking for employment.

A team of researchers from the Swiss Forum for the Study of Migration at the University of Neuchâtel tested identical resumes, changing only the names. 

Where the CV included a foreign-sounding name, applicants were required to send 30 percent more resumes in order to get a job interview, when compared with applicants with ‘traditional’ Swiss-sounding names.

People with roots in Kosovo, Cameroon and Morocco were found to be among the most discriminated against, despite being Swiss citizens.

READ ALSO: Swiss with ‘foreign-sounding' names 'less likely to get job interviews



The same trend also emerges among people seeking to rent apartments in Switzerland.

Another study, by the National Center of Competence in Research, found that immigrants have less chances of getting an apartment, even though they have been naturalised and hold Swiss passports.

Researchers sent 11,000 fictitious applications in response to real estate advertisements.

They found that candidates with Kosovar or Turkish names (but many with Swiss passports)  were not given as many opportunities to view apartments as non-foreign applicants.


A number of MPs in both chambers of the parliament are either foreign-born but naturalised, or Swiss-born with dual citizenship.

This has prompted one deputy, Andreas Glarner, to submit a motion 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.

His reason: argument that MPs who hold dual nationality “don’t represent Switzerland’s best interests".

This move followed a dispute that Glarner had with another MP, Sibel Arslan, who has both a Swiss and Turkish citizenship.

The two quarrelled publicly when Arslan 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".

READ ALSO: Swiss politician's call to ban dual citizens from becoming MPs sparks anger


But that’s not all.

Recently, a Swiss-Congolese candidate for the parliament reported being ‘intimidated’ for running for political office.

Alfred Ngoyi Wa Mwanza, who came to Switzerland from the Democratic Republic of Congo as an asylum seeker in 2002 and became a Swiss citizen in 2016, is running for National Council in the upcoming October 22nd elections. 

But he reports being “intimidated” by random acts — for instance, on several occasions someone had urinated on his car and even left excrements on the vehicle.

The fact that Ngoyi Wa Mwanza is a Swiss citizen — a basic requirement to be able to run for a political office — has escaped his harassers.

READ ALSO: 'People of colour are automatically perceived as foreigners'


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