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Austria's far-right aims to suspend granting of citizenship to 'non-Europeans'

Amanda Previdelli
Amanda Previdelli - [email protected]
Austria's far-right aims to suspend granting of citizenship to 'non-Europeans'
The leader of the FPÖ and former Austrian Interior Minister Herbert Kickl waves the Austrian flag as he arrives on stage to address supporters at an election rally of the Austrian Freedom Party (FPOe) in Vienna. A former intelligence chief has warned the party hasn't cut its ties with Putin's Russia. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

After the Viennese Integration Council asked for an easier process for citizenship in Austria, the far-right FPÖ party demanded the suspension of granting citizenship to non-Europeans.


Austrian citizenship is not easy to get, and it is a very controversial subject in the country.

While members of the SPÖ, NEOS and Green parties argue that hurdles for naturalisation are too high and the process is too costly - preventing people from integrating - the far-right has come out on the opposite side, asking for "non-Europeans" not to be granted citizenship.

In a statement, the far-right party, which is currently leading voting intention polls for Austria's federal elections, said: "Apparently, the SPÖ and NEOS are trying to lure cheap votes by naturalising social migrants who are unwilling to integrate and are criminals. The FPÖ demands an opposite approach, namely a suspension of the granting of citizenship to non-Europeans. In addition, Vienna should not become a naturalisation capital, but a deportation capital".

The Local has asked for further clarification, particularly asking whether the party meant non-EU citizens or non-Europeans and what was the legal basis for discrimination based on citizenship, but has not received any reply ahead of publishing this story.

READ ALSO: How foreigners can get fast-track citizenship in Austria

The official statement came after Viennese authorities and the capital's Integration Council strongly criticised the currently restrictive citizenship law, stating that it promoted a "democratic deficit that excluded over a third of Vienna's resident population from the right to vote" and asking for changes.

What changes is Vienna demanding?

The citizenship law is federal and cannot be changed by provinces. Still, the regions can pressure for reforms, and Vienna has been doing so for years, particularly as its immigrant population share rises.

Most recently, the Vienna Integration Council, established by Deputy Mayor Christoph Wiederkehr of the liberal Neos party, proposed automatic citizenship for children born in Austria if one parent has already resided legally in the country for five years.

In a press statement, the council said that Vienna had witnessed a significant decline in the naturalisation rate compared to the rest of Europe, despite population growth resulting from immigration. Austrian naturalisation requires ten years of legal and uninterrupted residence, as well as proof of sufficient financial means and a secure livelihood. 

READ ALSO: ‘I won’t give up my nationality’: Why foreigners choose not to become Austrian

The Integration Council called for shorter residence periods, lower income requirements, and acceptance of dual citizenship. Additionally, they advocate for increased resources for the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (MA 35) in Vienna to streamline and improve the efficiency and transparency of the naturalisation process.


The council added that the current citizenship law also poses challenges to the integration process. Integration Council member and political scientist Gerd Valchars stated that naturalisation acts as a catalyst for social integration, leading to higher incomes, lower unemployment rates, improved housing conditions, and better educational opportunities for children.

ÖVP and FPÖ strongly against easing citizenship rules

Integration Minister Susanne Raab of the centre-right ÖVP rejected calls for easier and automatic acquisition of citizenship. 

She emphasised the importance of more extended residence, integration requirements, and economic self-sustainability as prerequisites for citizenship. Raab said there were risks to the welfare state and potential new migration flows in any relaxation of the citizenship process. She also urged the City of Vienna to address integration issues openly, take action in the districts, and not assume that granting citizenship alone will resolve integration challenges.

READ ALSO: Could Austria change the rules around citizenship? 

Vienna's ÖVP chairman, Karl Mahrer, insisted that the citizenship law should not be weakened. He said he believed citizenship should be granted due to a successful integration process, not as a starting point.


Finally, the far-right also agrees with this stance, saying that the demands for easier access to citizenship were a "provocation" and demanding a suspension of the granting of citizenship to non-Europeans.


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