Symposium Dual Citizenship

Political and Social Integration in an Era of Global Mobility

Thursday, 19/12/2019; 09h00-19h00

Aula of the Campus, University of Vienna, Spitalgasse/Alser Straße, 1090 Wien

Being in possession of state citizenship today is an essential prerequisite for enjoying the effective protection of nearly all rights. As a result of globalisation and global migration, a growing number of people live and work in countries of which they do not hold citizenship. They therefore have to depend on rights granted to foreign residents. Countries and local communities hosting immigrants are often faced with the problem that the interests of considerable shares of their population are not counted politically if they cannot participate in elections.

A growing acceptance of dual citizenships can be observed globally. Among 175 nation states, 64% allow immigrants to retain their previous nationality when acquiring their host country citizenship. These countries thus make provision for the fact that people’s identities have become more complex and that lasting feelings of belonging to two or more political communities are possible. Citizenship is of high symbolical value. It is a core expression of connectedness to a country and there is no reason why such links should be singular and exclusionary ones.

The collective granting of citizenship to nationally and ethnically related minority populations residing in neighbouring countries (such as the German language group in South Tyrol) poses yet another, albeit somewhat different, problem to nation states. Such citizenship grants are legally permitted in principle, but may result in difficulties.

Demand for dual citizenship is also strong among expatriate Austrians who currently automatically lose their Austrian citizenship when voluntarily acquiring that of their host country. On account of their high number (around 400 000) and their right to vote in national elections, the interests of this group, which is sometimes called the ‘tenth federal state of Austria’), in dual citizenship have not yet been taken into account.

The symposium will investigate these concerns from an interdisciplinary perspective, considering constitutional, political, and sociological views. Contributions will include theoretical discussions as well as case studies and the first results of surveys in South Tyrol and among expatriate Austrians. The day will conclude with a discussion of the Austrian situation by a panel including experts and policy makers, which might provide some suggestions for political reform.