One of Norway’s two government parties, the Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet, Frp) seems to be leaning in favour of finally allowing dual citizenship in the country. Its government partner, the Conservatives, remains undecided while at least one of their support parties in Parliament has long favoured dual citizenship.
Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported Wednesday that several county leaders in the Progress Party have said they’ll vote in favour of dual citizenship at the party’s national meeting this spring. Five of the leaders (fylkesledere) support the dual citizenship proposal that will be up for debate and a vote, four say they’ll vote against it, two are uncertain and two didn’t want to comment. The remaining six county leaders didn’t respond to NRK’s query on the dual citizenship issue.
The Progress Party’s youth group (FpU), like those in several of the eight parties represented in the Norwegian parliament, has already come out in favour. “There are many Norwegians who already have dual citizenship today,” FpU leader Bjørn-Kristian Svendsrud told NRK. “I think loyalty to Norway first and foremost lies in your heart. The feeling of where you belong exists even if dual citizenship is allowed.”
Svendsrud is a member of the Progress Party’s program committee and is among those campaigning for fellow party members to approve dual citizenship. NRK reported that a majority on the committee disagrees with Svendsrud, but NRK’s informal poll of county leaders shows he has support from many factions.
Even Roy Steffensen, leader of the party’s county chapter in Rogaland who hasn’t taken a stand yet, told NRK that dual citizenship can be an advantage in cases when refugees or immigrants, for example, find themselves being stripped of their Norwegian citizenship if it’s found to have been granted on invalid grounds. If Norway allowed dual citizenship, “the person affected would still have a passport and avoid being stateless,” Steffensen said. He still has qualms over whether dual citizenship would weaken ties to one of the two countries involved, though, and worries there can be loyalty issues regarding military duty, in times of war of if the person holding dual citizenship is heavily politically involved.
In one recent case, though, a Somalian-Norwegian who came to Norway as a refugee and still holds two passports later traveled home to Somalia and recently was appointed prime minister of the deeply troubled country. Even Norway’s Queen Sonja has praised his work in Somalia, but the Progress Party’s immigration spokesman Mazya Keshvari has called for revocation of his Norwegian passport. Others disagree, even within his party: “I see no problems with him having Norwegian citizenship but now choosing to work towards rebuilding Somalia,” Tormod Overland of the Progress Party’s chapter in Sør-Trøndelag told NRK. “But I agree that when refugees are granted Norwegian citizenship in the future, it should be temporary while they have a need for protection.”
Norway in the minority worldwide
Despite campaigns recently to allow dual citizenship in Norway, the country remains one of the few countries in both Europe and the world that continues to prohibit dual citizenship. That’s one of the reasons why so many permanent residents in Norway continue to hold the passports of the countries of their birth, no matter how much they would like to also have a Norwegian passport, be able to vote in national elections and feel more included in Norwegian society. Many find it difficult to renounce citizenship in the lands of their birth and where they still have family and other interests.
While the Conservatives have yet to take a position and don’t seem to have any plans to debate the issue at their national meeting in March, the Liberal Party clearly favours dual citizenship and that would give the government a majority in Parliament if the Conservatives and the Progress Party also favour it. The dual citizenship issue, which also has been supported by the Greens Party, was due to come up in Parliament early this year after a majority requested the government to officially evaluate its consequences through a so-called konsekvensutredning. That’s often a major step towards approval, but the government still hasn’t presented the evaluation and it’s been delayed until later this spring. That in turn lessens the chances that it will come up for a vote in Parliament before the summer recess and before parliamentary elections in September.