An absurd and awful moment in Switzerland's legendarily bonkers citizenship process

You might want to as Naveen Hofstetter for that.

Swiss identity is extremely fine grained. I can actually totally understand the Aldi thing. If you make a point, as a visitor, of using the local shops people become friendly and helpful rather quickly. If she had made more of an effort to be “Swiss” the outcome perhaps could have been rather different.
This is a country where people may distrust people from the next town, let alone the next canton. It’s perhaps unsurprising that a lot of educated Swiss leave for less inward looking societies.


There, FIFY.


So a Swiss citizen can’t be a xenophobe?


Citizens get to decide who will get in. Some of those citizens are xenophobes, some are not. I’m okay with it.


Sure. But that’s not what the system is designed to do. It was set up by the local citizens to ensure they have a say in who gets to share a country with them. And then you let democracy run its course.

What irks me is the tacit assumption that there should be someone or something above the citizens of the country, wisely watching over them to make sure they don’t make decisions you feel might be xenophobic. Who do you propose that would be?


What? I didn’t even understand that sentence. Maybe it’s early and i’m not fully awake but i really didn’t even begin to comprehend what you said.

Are you saying that nationality tests shouldn’t be objective but have someone with potential bias to decide who they think is swiss enough or whatever other nationality? If that’s what you’re saying then that’s absurd.


Swiss enough Swiss enough Swiss enough Swiss enough

Whew, I almost got sucked into the Swiss vortex.

The solution here is to introduce a control group. Mix in with the applicants a random Swiss citizen and submit them to this questioning. If the jury decides this citizen isn’t Swiss enough, deport the jury.


Who do you propose should institute that rule?

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Me once I’m god-emperor, obviously.




Thank you. That’s what’s called sovereignty. Citizens get to decide, and it doesn’t need to be fair, or nice, or anything. It’s like deciding who you go on a date with or who you are friends with: it’s beyond review. Citizenship is joining a community, just like friendship and dating are social connections, and none of these need to be fair in any way. It’s fundamentally different from employment decisions or others where there should be a process that’s fair and as transparent as possible.


Wish granted!


Gooble Gobble

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Mountain people around the world are known to be notoriously insular. You get the same xenophobic attitudes in the Caucasus and Himalayas.

My ex Father in Law grew up in Lichtenstein (as a non citizen). He told me that there are families there that don’t speak to each other because of slights going back to the Mediaeval period.

Interesting aside - the US government considered him to be “from” Liechtenstein when applying for residency because that’s where he was born and he was granted it immediately because Liechtenstein (with a population of 37,500) gets the same number of slots as China or India. His friend, a member of the Princely family of Liechtenstein was denied a visa because the US state department considered him to be from Hungary (where he was born) and this was when Hungary was still a communist country.


An immigration authority that offers a test with a standard set of questions applicable to the entire nation-state. In a liberal democracy, crazy and arbitrary questions (like which of the country’s grocery stores you use or which of the country’s sports you enjoy) tend to get sidelined by more germane questions about the country’s constitution and core values and language.

I’m fine with local citizens having a say in the process by assessing answers to those kind of standards-based questions, but giving the xenophobic ones the ability to blackball prospective citizens based on subjective and arbitrary criteria isn’t a good idea in a civilised country.


If your process for creating citizens isn’t fair or nice, then you are not a fair or nice country. Your process defines the community just as your method for choosing your friends in many ways defines the type of person you are. Saying it’s democratic as a means of shutting down the debate is stupid because it acts as if the opinion of the public is fixed. It’s not.


A Helvi-Turing test, if you can’t tell if who you are talking to is a citizen and a non-citizen then they get to be a citizen (or have theirs revoked).

Also this strikes me as very Greek (see Ostracism), the birthplace of democracy…


Well, and the Swiss have decided that they are not going to have overreaching national authorities applying uniform rules to all cantons since the individual cantons value their autonomy and independence in many areas. They also like to do the direct democracy thing a lot and that works much better with a fairly homogeneous population.