0429 GMT July 22, 2019
In a referendum that was held on the “simplified naturalization of third-generation immigrants” bill on Sunday, 60.4 percent of voters and 19 cantons voted “yes,” media reported Monday.
The bill will now allow the foreign nationals who were born in Switzerland but had immigrant grandparents to get Swiss citizenship more easily.
Up until now, the process was a long bureaucratic one that had to proceed in individual cantons. But the bill will now see the transfer of responsibility to the federal level and reduce the bureaucracy for immigrants who are under 25 and whose parents and grandparents have lived in Switzerland for years to become Swiss citizens.
Less than 25,000 people in Switzerland currently qualify as third-generation immigrants, of whom nearly 60 percent are Italians, and the rest are with origins in the Balkans and of Turkish descent, according to a migration department study.
The right-wing anti-immigration Swiss People’s Party (SPV), the only party to campaign against the bill with anti-Muslim messages and charges of religious prejudice, was not happy with the result.
SPV spokesperson Gabriel Luchinger said, “Of course we are a little disappointed.” He said now the federal authorities responsible for the process must “asses its requests very thoroughly and with big respect, keeping in mind that we think that the integration is not as good as it should be most of the time.”
Switzerland, with a population of eight million, is not a member of the 28-country European Union (EU) but is part of Europe’s passport-free Schengen area.