Norway may soon ease restrictions on dual citizenship

Venstre wants to make dual citizenship possible for immigrants and Norwegians abroad

Photo courtesy of Venstre Two Venstre members of the Storting, Sveinung Rotevatn (left) and party chairperson Trine Skei Grande (right).

Photo courtesy of Venstre
Two Venstre members of the Storting, Sveinung Rotevatn (left) and party chairperson Trine Skei Grande (right).

M. Michael Brady
Asker, Norway

Norway has long had restrictive rules on dual citizenship. That situation may change after the Storting (Parliament) reconvenes this autumn. Venstre (literally “Left”), the Liberal Party of Norway, is preparing a parliamentary motion that will ease the restrictive rules and make dual citizenship readily available for immigrants resident in Norway as well as for Norwegians resident abroad. In July, Venstre released a position paper on the motion, based on an interview of Sveinung Rotevatn, a member of the Storting and the leader of Young Venstre.

Parliamentarian Rotevatn remarked that “Venstre believes that it’s about time that Norway does as about half the world’s countries have done and broadly accepts dual citizenship. This will strengthen the democratic rights and potential for integration of resident immigrants as well as Norwegians resident abroad.

“More than 10 years have passed since the Equality Committee of the Council of Europe stated in 2004 that immigrants integrate far better when they can obtain citizenship in their new home without having to relinquish citizenship in their country of origin. So changing the Norwegian law on citizenship contributes to improving integration.

“Venstre views this as a democratic problem, as in Norway today, we marginalize newcomers from other countries, in many cases depriving them of their democratic rights, such as voting in national elections. This should not happen in a modern liberal democracy, such as Norway.

“In our globalized world of today, love knows no borders. So our incentive is about putting people first and strengthening their rights. Today, for example, Norwegians who follow their hearts and go abroad to live for years and then apply for citizenship will lose their Norwegian citizenship. The same is true here for a resident immigrant applying for Norwegian citizenship. It’s an outdated, unfair practice.

“Today only six of Europe’s 46 states do not generally allow dual citizenship. Both bourgeois and social democratic parties in many European countries, including Denmark, Sweden, Germany, and Finland, have shown that they can strengthen the rights of citizens by introducing dual citizenship. So I wonder why the political position on the matter in Norway is as it is today.”

The 160th Storting will convene for its constituent sitting on Thursday, October 1, and the State Opening of the Storting will take place on Friday, October 2. Thereafter, this correspondent intends to monitor and report on the progress of the Venstre proposal, unquestionably of interest to many Norwegian Americans.

This article originally appeared in the Sept. 4, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

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