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Dutch News
“Dual nationality can help integration” 2/19/2007
AMSTERDAM – Having two passports can encourage integration, was Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin’s thinking in 1991 when he submitted a motion to allow dual nationality. Those who are not forced to surrender their old passport will apply for Dutch citizenship sooner. That was the political reasoning behind the motion, the Volkskrant reports.

Ernst Hirsch Ballin, due to be appointed justice minister once again in the new government, watches as outgoing Minister Rita Verdonk, who also holds a seat in the justice department, is pushing for a ban on dual nationality. On the eve of her departure from government, though she will still serve in parliament, the minister for integration said on the television programme NOVA on Friday that even Princess Maxima should give up her Argentine passport.

She failed to mention that Argentines, like Moroccans, are prohibited by the laws of their home country from relinquishing their nationality.

Those who oppose dual nationality say handing in a former passport in fact increases the sense of loyalty to the Netherlands. Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom (PVV) called for a motion last week that would keep state secretaries Aboutaleb and Albayrak out of the cabinet because of their dual nationality.

“This is really an absurd discussion,” says Ahmed Marcouch, city district mayor of Amsterdam’s Slotervaart district. “As if I would make more of an effort without that Moroccan passport. The Netherlands is my country, this is where I live.”

There is little discussion of dual nationality in traditional immigration countries like Canada, Israel and the US. Film star Arnold Schwarzenegger even serves as governor of California while holding both Austrian and American nationality.

“Loyalty has nothing to do with dual nationality,” Marcouch stressed. “You don’t serve in public office in a country that you don’t care about.”

The Netherlands has more than 1 million residents with dual nationality, says Statistics Netherlands. Between 1992 and 1997, dual nationality was permitted – after Hirsch Ballin’s proposal.

Immigrants are now required to give up their old nationality when naturalising. But the IND does list a number of exceptions, when the country of birth does not allow one to relinquish nationality for instance.

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