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Citizenship News

EUDO CITIZENSHIP offers a selection of media reports and news summaries on significant legislative changes, court decisions, policy developments, political campaigns or other events concerning citizenship in Europe and beyond.

We welcome suggestions for news items by our users. Proposals including the full text or internet link should be sent to EUDO.Citizenship@eui.eu. The EUDO CITIZENSHIP team will selectively publish news based on their significance and information content. We will not publish items whose content appears to be biased or otherwise problematic.

We will publish news in any European language if an English summary of the content is available.

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Moderate liberalization of citizenship law approved in Swiss referendum

By Samuel D. Schmid, GLOBALCIT Collaborator 

Non-citizens whose grandparents immigrated to Switzerland – so-called “3rd generation foreigners” – can soon naturalise more easily.

60.4 percent of Swiss voters approved the new constitutional provision in a mandatory referendum. Polls indicated that the public tended towards yes. But since new constitutional provisions can only be adopted when a majority of cantons approves as well, and since earlier reform proposals were rejected because the cantonal majority was not reached, it was unsure until the end whether the reform would stand a chance. That 17 out of 23 cantons voted yes today thus came as quite a surprise.

The far right Swiss People’s Party was the only major party opposing the reform. With yet another contested poster campaign, they warned about “uncontrolled mass naturalizations”, depicting a woman in a Niqab. Besides a broad coalition of major parties, the youth movement “Operation Libero” successfully countered the far-right campaign, arguing that “3rd generation foreigners” are as Swiss as any Swiss citizen.

Commentators stressed that it was probably only because the reform was so moderate that it was adopted so clearly.

To qualify for a “facilitated naturalisation”, 3rd generation foreigners must fulfill numerous additional conditions. They need a minimum of 5 years of Swiss schooling, and they need to provide proof that at least one grandparent was legally resident in Switzerland. In addition, at least one parent must have a permanent residence permit as well as a minimum of 10 years of residence and 5 years of Swiss schooling. Finally, the naturalisation application has to be filed before turning 25 years old – a provision that is meant to make sure that male candidates cannot evade mandatory military service.

Furthermore, the reform is only relevant for about 25’000 people. Most of them have their distant roots in Italy and other European countries.

The new provision will come to force next year, together with a new citizenship law making naturalisation more restrictive for 1st generation immigrants. Among other things, the new requirements demand that an applicant must not be reliant on social welfare.

Naturalisations in Switzerland are further regulated and decided upon by municipalities. However, the new provisions are part of the national legal framework.

Read more here (in German) and here (in English).

For details of current and past citizenship legislation in Switzerland, please check out our country profile pages.

5,411 persons reported renouncing American citizenship in 2016

According to the US Treasury department, a total of 5,411 people renounced their American citizenship in 2016, including the United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. This is a record number of nationality renunciations in the US, and is 26% higher than the next highest annual total that followed the enacting of a disclosure law in the 1990s.

Check out the overview of US citizenship renunciation statistics here, and details of Johnson’s case here.

For details of present and past citizenship legislation in the US, check out our country profile pages.

Finland to re-evaluate its dual citizenship policy

The President of Finland Sauli Niinistö proposed that the country reconsidered its dual citizenship policy introduced in 2003. The President maintains that the situation has changed since the introduction of the policy, originally aimed at integrating the Finns returning from Sweden. As an argument for moving towards a restrictive citizenship policy, Niinistö cited practices of other countries, such as Russia and Germany, which allow dual nationality only in exceptional circumstances.

The Finnish Ministry of Defence is drafting legislation pursuant to which only Finnish citizens could be employed in this institution, and exceptions would be granted only when necessary. The Ministry cited security concerns as the reason behind the policy.

The country’s Foreign Affairs Ministry stated that while dual nationality does not represent a problem for employment, in some cases, hiring a third country national might represent a risk. 

Read more on President Niinistö’s proposal, the press release of the Ministry of Defence, and the press release of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

For details of current and past citizenship legislation in Finland check out our country profile pages.  

Upcoming referendum on the facilitated naturalisation of 3rd generation foreign youth in Switzerland

On 12 February 2017, the Swiss electorate will be called to the polls to vote in a referendum on a legislation aiming at facilitating access to citizenship for so-called ‘third generation’ foreign youth, that is the grandsons and granddaughters of immigrants. The virtual absence of a ius soli element in Swiss nationality law together with the exceptionally high hurdles to ‘ordinary naturalisation’ in a country where 25 percent of the resident population does not hold citizenship, considerably increase the stakes of the reform. In the run up to the referendum, the nccr on-the-move, a large research centre based at the University of Neuchâtel and funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation, has launched a Special Edition Blog, providing empirically informed analysis of the context, content and likely consequences of the reform in the event of a ‘yes’ vote.

Learn more about nationality law in Switzerland on our country profile page.

Read the contributions to the blog (in French, English and German).

Political scientists reject Trump’s claim that millions of non-citizens voted in the U.S. elections in 2016

Political scientists have written an open letter in which they reject Donald Trump’s claim that millions of non-citizens voted in the November 2016 presidential elections. To support the claim, the U.S. President has cited a 2014 article by Jesse Richman, Gulshan Chattha, and David Earnest, published in Electoral Studies. In the article, Richman et al. claimed that the number of non-citizen voters could range "from just over 38,000 at the very minimum to nearly 2.8 million at the maximum”. The claim was based on information on the respondents’ citizenship status from the 2008 and 2010 large scale Cooperative Congressional Election Study (CCES).  It subsequently served to share President Trump’s rhetoric on the non-citizen votes. The authors of the paper reject the U.S. President’s  interpretation of their analysis.

In a 2015 critique to the article, Stephen Ansolabehere, Samantha Luks, and Brian Schaffner demonstrated that the most likely explanation for almost all of the supposed non-citizen votes is response error. 

Read the open letter, and news on this issue, including a NYT piece on how illegal voting (by a green card holder) might happen and why it is so unlikely. 

Access the original article in Electoral Studies, the critique in same journal and the rebuttal by the original authors.

For details of current and past electoral legislation in the United States check out our country profiles and access our qualitative database and quantitative indicators.