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Cantonal vote Voters set higher hurdles for citizenship requests

Participants in a course sitting in a meeting room

Potential candidates for a Swiss passport in canton Aargau have to pass a test before they can apply for citizenship.

(© Keystone/Gaetan Bally)

Regulations for foreigners to be granted Swiss citizenship will be tightened in canton Aargau following a ballot on Sunday.

Final results show 64.8% of voters endorsed a decision by the cantonal parliament from last year, based on a proposal by a member of the centrist Christian Democratic Party.

 The amendment will bring Aargau in line with two other cantons.

Left-wing and some centrist parties unsuccessfully tried to overturn the parliamentary decision.

Under the law, citizenship requests can only be made by applicants who haven’t received social welfare for the past ten years. The current waiting period is three years – in line with regulations at a national level.

Potential candidates for a Swiss passport would also have to pass a test about basic facts of the country’s politics, society, history and geography.

The political left has denounced the legal amendment as discriminatory and disproportional. Political parties to the right argue stricter regulations are necessary to prevent an increase in welfare beneficiaries.

The citizenship procedure involves federal, cantonal and local authorities and leaves municipalities wide-ranging autonomy.

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