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Emmen in the spotlight over Swiss citizenship – again

Franca Vanesa, from Yugoslavia, was one of the lucky ones Keystone

The town of Emmen near Lucerne has once again refused to grant Swiss citizenship to applicants from the Balkans.

In a secret ballot, voters agreed to grant citizenship to six candidates from Morocco, Portugal, Italy, and the Philippines. An 11-year-old Yugoslavian girl also gained citizenship by the narrow margin of 3,294 votes to 3,142.

However the other 12 applicants, who came from Yugoslavia, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, were all turned down, albeit by a margin of between 300 and 600 votes.

In March 2000 the town in central Switzerland gained international notoriety when 48 candidates from the Balkans saw their applications rejected.

Local politicians said the result was influenced by a general disapproval of Swiss asylum policy and the amount of crime committed by foreigners in Switzerland.

They are now calling for the whole process to be reviewed, arguing that it is unreasonable for communities such as Emmen to decide citizenship applications at the ballot box. They say applications should be decided by a special committee.

Over in the town of Schwyz, citizenship applications from two Turkish nationals, a Croatian woman and a Bosnian were also refused.

swissinfo with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR