Update: 06.02.2013

Empirical studies on origin-related discrimination during the naturalisation process

Naturalisation decisions made on the basis of direct democratic votes frequently lead to a discriminating outcome. This is the result of two studies which were prepared by the University of Zurich on behalf of the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). It shows that immigrants from former Yugoslavia and Turkey are more frequently refused Swiss nationality than nationals from Western European countries if decisions are taken by citizens in a referendum at local level. Their chances for naturalisation increase if elected politicians in municipality councils decide on their applications. The researchers analysed naturalisation decisions taken in 1,400 Swiss municipalities between 1990 and 2010.

In 2003, the Federal Supreme Court provoked heavy controversy with its demand for a legal reasoning in the case of negative naturalisation decisions. At the same time, this also led to reform efforts. Secret ballot votes are no longer allowed and naturalisation decisions by the municipality councils have to meet the requirements set out in the Federal Law.

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