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Bachmann says she is a “proud American”

Bachmann's Swiss citizenship lasted less than two months Keystone

United States congresswoman Michele Bachmann has asked to withdraw her Swiss citizenship less than two months after it was granted. Critics in the US had accused the prominent Tea Party member of policy inconsistency.

Bachmann wrote to the Swiss consulate on Thursday asking to revoke her citizenship.

“I took this action because I want to make it perfectly clear: I was born in America and I am a proud American citizen. I am, and always have been, 100 per cent committed to our United States Constitution and the United States of America,” she said.

Her political opponents have noted that Switzerland has universal health care, something Bachmann vigorously opposes.

Swiss officials declined to comment on the move.

“The Embassy does not comment on this private decision by Mrs Bachmann,” Norbert Baerlocher, a spokesman for the Swiss embassy in Washington, said in an email.

He confirmed that the Swiss consulate in Chicago had received Bachmann’s request via email.

She and her husband Marcus finalised a naturalisation process on March 19.

Minnesota election

Bachmann’s move came two days after Swiss national television broke the news that she had registered for Swiss citizenship, which she initially dismissed as a “non-story.”

By Wednesday, her office was scrambling to clarify how she had acquired Swiss citizenship.

Bachman’s spokeswoman Becky Rogness initially said Bachmann had been eligible for it because her husband, Marcus, was of Swiss descent, and that the family recently went through the process together because some of their children had wanted to do it. Bachmann issued a statement later on Wednesday saying her dual citizenship had been an automatic right upon her marriage in 1978.

Her political opponent in the race for re-election in Minnesota state, Democratic businessman Jim Graves, insinuated she might have divided loyalties.

“Earlier this year, Michele Bachmann was Iowan, earlier this week she was Swiss and today she’s an American,” an official from Graves campaign said.

Bachmann ran unsuccessfully for the Republican presidential nomination and had touted her Iowa roots while campaigning in that state. A founder of the congressional Tea Party Caucus, Bachmann represents Minnesota’s 6th District.

Automatic right

Under Swiss law, which changed in 1992, the wife of a Swiss citizen must actively apply to become Swiss.
“But because they got married earlier in 1978 Michele Bachmann has the automatic right to Swiss nationality,” officials from canton Thurgau’s civil status department told this week.
Marcus Bachmann is a citizen of the village of Wigoltingen in eastern Switzerland.

Nowadays, someone living outside Switzerland applying for naturalisation has to have been married to and lived with a Swiss citizen for at least six years and have “close ties” to Switzerland.

Switzerland allows citizens to hold multiple nationalities, so whether a naturalised person loses previous citizenship depends entirely upon the other country in question.

Swiss citizenship laws have undergone dramatic changes in the past 20 years. Between 1992 and 2010, the number of people issued a Swiss passport has nearly quadrupled. 

Every year, around 40,000 people become Swiss, three-quarters of whom come from Europe; and five per cent from America. Yet only three out of 100 foreigners living in Switzerland have been granted Swiss citizenship – a small percentage compared with other countries.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR