Diogenes (404-323 BC) was a Cynic and even though he lived in a dog house, he called himself ‘citizen of the world’. In today’s increased mobility and connectivity, we can all be citizens of the world, virtually and actually. Except reality is that we are citizens of one country, maybe two, but always only one if you are Danish.
Often two arguments are mounted against dual citizenship: 1. belonging and loyalty to one’s country is indivisible and 2. the right to vote should be restricted to one country.
A report by a Danish working group released earlier in 2014 points out that in Denmark, the right to vote depends on a citizen residing in the country, so a dual citizen would have to live in Denmark to vote in Denmark, and so the second objection is quickly rejected.
The report deals with the loyalty argument in a similarly dismissive way: some vocations would require undivided loyalty to Denmark, such as a soldier in the defence forces if there were conflict with his or her other country; however, the situation can be easily avoided through technical legal requirements, e.g. soliders in the Danish defence forces sent to serve in another country are not to be a citizen of that country.
However, the loyalty argument is more difficult because the language quickly becomes emotive, rather than based in fact. It plays on fear of otherness, fear of difference, fear of loss of Danishness.
In an interview with membership organisation Danes Worldwide, Christian Langballe, speaks of his Dansk Folkeparti’s opposition to dual citizenship (Danes, 2, April 2014). In essence, Langballe’s argument is that loyalty cannot be divided and that people agitating for dual citizenship made choices which cannot be unmade – bordet fanger, the die have been cast, jacta est alia.
Paradoxically, Langballe refers to the so-called ‘Cricket Test’ to support his argument. In 1990, British Member of Parliament, Norman Tebbit suggested asking immigrants whom they root for in a cricket match—their former country or Great Britain — to find out where their loyalties lie. Apparently, which team you support when they play against each other, demonstrates your undivisible loyalty and belonging. So if you support the Indian team over the English team, you are not loyal to Great Britain. Or so goes the logic. It is clear that Langballe’s logic overwhelmingly is targeted at immigrants to Denmark, not Danish emigrants to other countries.
But if logic is logic, it should work the other way, too. Of course, the Danes play very little cricket, but in a football—or soccer—match between Australia and Denmark, I would unwaveringly support my old over my new country’s team, and not just because Australia is a babe in the woods when it comes to the world game. So the Cricket Test determines that my loyalty lies with Denmark: even if I decided I needed to be an Australian citizen to function in Australia, I am more loyal and more attached to Denmark than Australia. That should then entitle me to my citizenship back, using Langballe’s logic.
The argument becomes confused with the EU mobile workforce entitlement debate, the welfare tourism debate. But this too is ill-guided when one digs a bit deeper. Becoming a Danish citizen will not entitle me to free welfare and services in Denmark. Typically, in the Danish model, entitlement has to be earnt. For example, I will have to live in Denmark for 40 years to qualify for the age pension. The child payment is not even relevant to the debate, because non-citizens are entitled under EU rules. And I will NOT be able to vote in Denmark, just because I am a citizen. I will have to have my primary residence in Denmark to do that. Without citizenship, though, I have to ask permission to stay in Denmark beyond 3 months, unlike my British-Australian dual citizen husband, who has a beetroot coloured passport alongside his blue coloured Australian one. Yet, I am the one with deep roots in Denmark, tracable back to Gorm den Gamle. I am the one who can sing NSF Grundvig’s phsalms and who knows the flag flying rules. I am the one who speaks the language and reads the Danish news and literature. I am the one who is proud as punch when the 40 year celebration of the Opera House saw Sydney full of Danes or when Denmark again is in the media for the success of its Danish model, its peacefulness, abundance of social trust or the happiness of its people. And I am the one who roots for the Danish soccer team when Denmark plays England in particular.
What skin of anyone’s nose is it that I would reclaim my birth right and be able to legally call myself Danish again – so that the emotional, familial and genuine sense of attachment and belonging to my birth country is aligned with my legal and formal status?
I look forward to seeing the dual citizenship Bill introduced in the 2014-15 parliamentary year and to the debate and passage of these laws. Of course, I root for a transitional arrangement where people who have relinquished their citizenship can have it reinstated. Bring it on. Be relevant in the world, Denmark, so you too can have citizens of the world.