Swiss at birth: Changes proposed to citizenship law

Swiss at birth: Changes proposed to citizenship law

A prominent member of the Council of States (Switzerland's upper house of parliament) has called for the requirements for Swiss citizenship to be reformed. Currently, being born in Switzerland does not automatically grant citizenship, meaning some people who have lived their whole life in the country cannot vote in referendums or elections.

Citizenship does not account for expats born in Switzerland

Paul Rechsteiner, Council of States member for St. Gallen, called for a new “ius soli” system of citizenship. This would mean babies born in Switzerland would automatically get a Swiss passport

Rechsteiner said Switzerland is “three-quarters a democracy,” alluding to the fact that 25 percent of the population hold a residence permit and therefore cannot vote. He said the current system of hereditary citizenship comes from a time when Switzerland saw mass emigration and wanted to guarantee citizenship for those who had moved abroad, which is no longer a factor today.

Huge enthusiasm for citizenship reform

He noted that there has been a “storm of enthusiasm” for an easier integration system for those born in the country, using the example of the Swiss football team's success at EURO 2020, a team that has several players of Kosovar and Albanian descent. Rechsteiner made the point that anti-immigration sentiment was falling in Switzerland, citing the defeat of three anti-immigration referendums in recent years.

Concluding the interview, Rechsteiner said it was time to reform the naturalisation process, which he sees as too archaic. He hoped that an amendment could be made to the constitution so that a quarter of the population can be given full civil rights.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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