Norway set to allow dual citizenship

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After years of denial, the Norwegian government finally appears ready to allow dual citizenship in Norway. A proposal cleared for hearing this autumn looks likely to gain support in Parliament, granting new rights to thousands of Norwegian residents with personal ties to another country.

Cecilie Myhre (left) lost her Norwegian citizenship when she needed to acquire Australian citizenship while living and working “down under.” She and Donna Fox have been spearheading a campaign to overturn Norway’s ban on dual citizenship, and now it appears they have prevailed in their efforts. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund

In a twist of irony, it was the immigration-skeptical government minister Sylvi Listhaug who confirmed Wednesday that the conservative government’s state budget due to be presented Thursday will contain a proposal to allow dual citizenship.

Norway is the only Nordic country, and one of the few in the world, that has continued to prohibit dual citizenship as a matter of principle. Many exceptions to the rule have been granted over the years, but the official ban has remained in place.

Listhaug’s conservative Progress Party voted in favour of dual citizenship at its national meeting last spring, and even though she’s personally been skeptical of allowing it, she’s now relenting. Her acceptance is based largely on a new way of viewing dual citizenship: She noted that allowing immigrants to have two passports will make it easier to revoke the Norwegian citizenship of those convicted of criminal offenses, especially terror charges, if they hold citizenship in another country to which they could be deported.

The Conservative Party, which holds government power along wih the Progress Party, has also voted in favour of doing away with the current ban on dual citizenship. That leaves the Conservatives, Progress, the Liberals and the Socialist Left parties in favour, giving them a majority in Parliament on an issue that’s likely to attract the support of some other parties as well.

Proponents of dual citizenship were thrilled, including Klara Wade of the organization Ja til dobbelt statsborgership, which has promoted dual citizenship. Now Wade’s American-born mother can finally apply for Norwegian citizenship and gain the right to vote in national elections, after living in Norway for 51 years.

“She’s never been able to vote in a Norwegian (parliamentary) election,” Klara Wade told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) after meeting Listhaug outside the Parliament building in Oslo. “Now we have fixed that.”

Not everyone is pleased, including Trygve Slagsvold Vedum of the Center Party. “We have wanted to defend and protect Norwegian citizenship, and ensure that folks must make a choice if they want Norwegian citizenship or if they want to remain a citizen of another country,” Vedum told NRK. “Citizenship carries both rights and obligations, and we have thought that’s a good thing.”

Now, however, it appears many long-time expatriates in Norway will finally be able to acquire dual citizenship, and feel more included and integrated in their country of residence.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The undersigned will be among them.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund