Switzerland Votes to Relax Citizenship Rules

Switzerland Votes to Relax Citizenship RulesSwitzerland Votes to Relax Citizenship Rules

People in Switzerland have voted to relax the country’s strict citizenship rules, making it easier for third-generation immigrants to become Swiss.

Being born in Switzerland does not guarantee citizenship. Non-Swiss residents must typically wait 12 years before applying, BBC reported.

Tests and government interviews are also required, which can be expensive.

Initial projections suggest that 59% of Swiss voters said yes to simplify the rules.

The new proposal will exempt third-generation immigrants, who are born in Switzerland and whose parents and grandparents lived permanently in Switzerland, from interviews and tests in the naturalization process.

Supporters of the plan to simplify the process argue that it is ridiculous to ask people who were born and have lived all their lives in Switzerland to prove that they are integrated.

The result is a defeat for the rightwing Swiss People’s Party, which had warned the measure was the first step to allowing all immigrants-25% of Switzerland’s population-to get citizenship.

The vote has been a defeat for rightwing nationalists who carried out an anti-Islam campaign in the runup to the vote, claiming that the new proposal could lead to the “Islamization” of the country.

However, the new law will affect only about 25,000 people, a majority of whom are of Italian origin, our correspondent says.

More than half of third-generation residents in Switzerland have descended from Italian immigrants, while other large groups have roots in the Balkans and Turkey.

Over the past 30 years, three previous attempts to relax the rules were defeated.

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