Call for Swiss MPs and senators to disclose dual nationality

Call for Swiss MPs and senators to disclose dual nationality
A file image of the Swiss Federal Assembly. Photo: AFP
Politicians in the Swiss national parliament with dual citizenship should be forced to reveal details of what passports they hold in order to boost transparency, a parliamentary commission has found.

The joint Political Institutions Committee of the upper and lower houses on Tuesday voted in favour of an initiative that would see politicians obliged to provide details of all the passports they hold. This is currently not the case. 

The vote came in response to a motion put forward by Marco Chiesa, an MP with the right-wing and anti-EU Swiss People's Party. He argued that the duties of disclosure spelled out in the Federal Act on the Federal Assembly should be extended to include details of the passports held by MPs and senators. 

Read also: Increasingly international – number of Swiss dual nationals soars

In his motion, Chiesa said it was in the interest of voters to know the nationalities of elected representatives as this could influence their voting behaviour on key issues. He cited the example of senators and MPs with EU passports who enjoyed the privileges of EU citizenship. 

The motion will now have to be voted on in both houses of the Swiss parliament. 

A consolation prize

Tuesday’s vote is something of a consolation prize for Chiesa who had previously called on the law to be changed so that parliamentarians could only hold a Swiss passport. That motion was rejected. 

The issue of dual nationality and politicians originally came up during the Federal Council elections of 2017, where two of the candidates were dual citizens. Current Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis voluntarily gave up his Italian citizenship while fellow candidate Pierre Maudet, who failed to be elected to the cabinet and now finds himself embroiled in an expenses scandal, said he would give up his French passport if he was voted in. 

Read also: Swiss democracy 'is failing country's foreign population'

Dual nationality for Swiss citizens became legal in 1992 and nearly one in four Swiss nationals now holds a second passport but the issue is not without controversy. 

The SVP has periodically called for the right to dual nationality for Swiss people to be either limited or scrapped, arguing that the holding of two passports can mean reduced loyalty to Switzerland. 

However, Swiss people with dual citizenship are currently not excluded from sensitive positions within the police force or from border security roles. They can even work as diplomats for Switzerland.