On 12 February 2017, Swiss will vote on whether to make it easier for third generation residents to become Swiss. The Swiss People’s Party (UDC/SVP) is firmly against the plan.
Now UDC national councillor Erich Hess is voicing his annoyance at allowing naturalised foreigners to keep their other nationality. “We will never know whether those who keep their original nationality are fully committed to Switzerland or not” he said.
In addition, he complained that those with dual nationality were better off than Swiss natives because they could freely go and live in other countries. “Naturalised citizens have more rights than the Swiss”, he said.
National Councillor Cédric Wermuth (PLR/FDP) disagrees. “Swiss are able to emigrate, naturalise, and, in certain countries, become dual nationals.” On this basis he doesn’t think Swiss citizens are worse off. Regarding the need to choose, Wermuth said the idea was “absurd”. “There are people who feel ties to several countries. That doesn’t make them bad Swiss….it makes them good ambassadors for Switzerland”, he said.
Gianni D’Amato, a migration expert at the University of Neuchâtel, thinks forcing people to choose would put the brakes on integration. “Those applying for citizenship would have to sweep part of their identity and past under the carpet. This would be difficult for many”, he said. In addition, he pointed to studies that proved that becoming a citizen aids integration. It would be a shame to compel people to give it up.
Official figures put the number of Swiss with two passports at 870,000. In addition to these, there are 560,000 Swiss abroad with another nationality.