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Majority of Swiss favour easing naturalisation laws

The new survey suggests a majority of Swiss are keen to see an easing of the naturalisation law Keystone

A majority of Swiss citizens are in favour of naturalising second and third generation foreigners, according to a survey commissioned by the justice ministry.

Eighty-one per cent of those questioned said they would be happy to see an easing of the law governing the naturalisation of young foreigners who have grown up in Switzerland.

The survey, which canvassed the views of just over 1,000 Swiss citizens from both French- and German-speaking parts of the country, revealed that 56 per cent thought that a person whose parents already live in Switzerland should be allowed to obtain Swiss nationality simply by declaring their intention.

Only 42 per cent of those surveyed, though, approved of the creation of an appeals procedure for people whose application for naturalisation is denied.

The justice ministry said the statistics were in line with the results of its own consultation procedure set up in advance of a possible revision of existing legislation.

The survey also indicated that a majority of Swiss consider that candidates for naturalisation should have “sufficient knowledge” of at least one national language and that this should be tested by way of an examination.

For 78 per cent of those questioned, competence in a national language was “indispensable” for obtaining a Swiss passport, while 91 per cent agreed that language courses should be mandatory for foreigners entering the country with no knowledge of French, German or Italian.

Asylum seekers come in for some criticism in the survey. Only 33 per cent of Swiss are reported to have a “good opinion” of asylum seekers, largely because it is thought that refugees do not know how to behave themselves in the country “which has welcomed them”.

A similar survey carried out last year suggested a third of Swiss considered asylum seekers had integrated well into society.

The latest survey indicates that this figure has now fallen to a quarter.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR