Andreas Glarner, a member of the Swiss People’s Party (SVP/UDC) told the SonntagsZeitung that members of parliament with dual nationality “do not represent Switzerland’s best interests”.
In an interview, Glarner said he is submitting a parliamentary proposal to ban dual citizens from running for the National Council, Switzerland’s parliament, and the Council of States, Switzerland’s upper house.
If accepted the proposal would exclude a significant percentage of Swiss citizens from elected positions in the federal government. Roughly 25% of Swiss citizens are citizens of another country, a percentage that rises to 75% among Swiss abroad.
Since 1992, Switzerland has allowed foreign citizens becoming Swiss via naturalisation to keep another nationality. Even before 1992, Switzerland allowed Swiss citizens acquiring foreign nationality to remain Swiss, according to Le Temps.
However, to pass into law Glarner’s would have to clear significant hurdles. Even if it found a majority in parliament, it would face constitutional and legal hurdles. Such a change would require an amendment to Switzerland’s constitution, and that would require a public vote. It would also fall foul of laws on discrimination, in particular those contained in the European Convention on Human Rights.
A number of Switzerland’s current parliamentarians are dual nationals. Examples include Benoît Genecand (French), Ada Marra (Italian), Lisa Mazzone (Italian), Claude Janiak (Polish) and Cédric Wermuth (Italian).
Yvette Estermann, a Swiss-Slovakian, is a parliamentarian who belongs to the Swiss People’s Party (SVP/UDC), the same party as Andreas Glarner who is proposing a ban on dual nationals running for elected office.
While Switzerland’s authorities recognise challenges with dual nationality, they also recognise upsides and consider it positive overall.
A study published in 2018 showed that foreign national who become Swiss typically identified strongly with Switzerland and integrated better both culturally and economically. And their loyalty to Switzerland was no less than those with only Swiss nationality. The introduction of dual nationality in 1992 has generally supported and promoted the inflow of capital and knowledge and relations with other nations.
At the same time the study found that there are some risks. Unlike those with only Swiss citizenship, dual nationals are exposed to the risk of losing Swiss nationality in exceptional cases. In addition, they can influence the drafting of laws to which they could avoid being subject to.
The subject of dual nationals in elected positions in Switzerland is not new. It has also been raised in relation to Federal Councillors who are elected by the Federal Council, which is made up of the National Council and Council of States. In 2017, the Swiss People’s Party was against Jacqueline de Quattro, a Swiss-Italian dual national, entering the race to become a Federal Councillor. In 2017, under pressure during his Federal Council candidacy, Ignazio Cassis gave up his Italian nationality. Cassis is currently a Federal Councillor.
SonntagsZeitung article (in German)