Campaigners to bring dual citizenship to Norway are celebrating after the leading party in the Norwegian government backed the concept at their annual conference.
Norway is the only Nordic country – and one of very few European nations – that doesn't allow dual citizenship. This means that currently anyone wishing to become a Norwegian citizen must renounce their citizenship of birth, although there are some exceptions to the rules.
Proposals to introduce a system of dual citizenship (known as dobbelt statsborgerskap) have been discussed for many years, but took a big step forward one year ago when Norway’s Parliamentary Committee recommended the Government remove the country’s ban.
Høyre votes yes
Høyre (Conservative party), the leading party in the country's current coalition government, voted to back the proposal that was tabled by the party's youth wing at their annual conference over the weekend.
“The prohibition of dual citizenship is old-fashioned, bureaucratic, unfair and adapted to a completely different world. It is arbitrary and the exemptions from the current rules are so many that more than half who apply are allowed to have dual citizenship. In addition, it is very costly to enforce” – Daniel Skjevik-Aasberg, Unge Høyre (Young Conservatives)
What seemed to seal the deal for Conservative members was securing the rights of Norwegians who live abroad for many years, possibly taking citizenship, and then return to Norway to find their rights eroded.
The elephant in the room
One might think that now the leading party in the coalition has backed dual citizenship, it is simply a matter of time. Unfortunately, things are a little more complex than that. Norway goes to the polls later this year to elect a new government, and many people expect to see Arbeiderpartiet (Labour party) to return to the top seats of government. But the Labour party are yet to back the concept of dual citizenship.
It's also not yet known whether Fremskrittspartiet (Progress Party), the junior partner in the current coalition, will vote on the proposals at their conference this May.
Still, even though the issue is a long way to being settled, the momentum is definitely heading in the direction of dual citizenship.
UPDATE: I've had several emails from people asking about Norwegian citizenship. To clarify, if Norway allows dual citizenship it doesn't mean the rules of how you qualify for citizenship are going to change. They might, but that is unlikely. Dual citizenship simply means a person applying for Norwegian citizenship won't have to surrender the citizenship of their country of birth.
Typically, to qualify for Norwegian citizenship you need to have been a permanent residence in Norway for at least seven years and be fluent in Norwegian, along with many other requirements. Read our guide to becoming a Norwegian citizen for more information.
Photo: Erik Norrud/Høyre