Nearly 25% of Swiss citizens hold another passport, while more and more people are becoming binational by birth, according to a study by the Federal Migration Commission published on Tuesday.
Switzerland’s recognition of dual nationality has removed a major obstacle to naturalisation, the authors noted. The number of naturalisations has been on the rise since its authorisation in 1992.
Foreigners represent nearly a quarter of Switzerland’s total population. The proportion of people with dual nationality has reached the same level. About one in four Swiss are dual nationals.
This high rate is attributed to the fact that three-quarters of Swiss abroad hold dual nationality. This finding shows Switzerland's willingness to maintain the link with its migrant nationals.
The proportion of binationals living in Switzerland is about 13%. But this figure could be higher, the committee noted.
The available data only concerned the population aged 15 years and over. In addition, more and more binational marriages are being concluded in Switzerland and the children born of these unions are often dual nationals themselves.
The issue of binationality evokes emotional reactions, noted the commission, making reference to athletes and politicians. Foreign minister Ignazio Cassis, for example, chose to give up his Italian passport before his election to the Federal Council.
This month the House of Representatives voted down a parliamentary initiative to prevent dual nationals from representing Switzerland in government by 125 votes to 64.
The study, published on the occasion of International Migrants Day, also highlights that the increase in the number of binational and plurinational migrants is leading to a relaxation of the "Swiss" and "foreign" categories. They identify as much with Switzerland as people with one nationality and are loyal to the country.
But the study also points to possible risks. As nationals of more than one state, dual nationals may have too many duties, without fully enjoying their rights. They can also influence the development of laws to which they will not be forced to comply.
Dual nationality can also be used as an instrument. A state can use it to support its expansion efforts. In addition, people can access another nationality in return for investments. Binational individuals may also be stripped of their Swiss nationality if their behaviour compromises Switzerland's reputation.
"It is to be expected that the current trend will continue, so that in the medium term, ordinary Swiss citizens will represent a minority within Switzerland, just as they already do among Swiss citizens abroad," noted the the Federal Migration Commission in its studyexternal link published on Tuesday.