Now you can too! Hungarian citizenship law reform

As I am trying to finish posting all the great write-ups from the spring semester, here is another student guest post, this one on Hungary’s citizenship law.


As mentioned in some of my previous posts there has been a recent change in government which has given the center right FIDESZ-KDNP party complete control of the parliament and therefore the law. Many of the changes PM Orban and President Schmitt (well, not any more) have made to Hungarian law have been controversial and criticized as autocratic by the US and the European Union. Citizenship laws are no exception to this accusation.

Upon their coming into office after elections in 2010, the FIDESZ-KDNP party quickly reformed the citizenship laws from their original 1993 amendments. Becoming a citizen of Hungary has now never been easier. Hungary’s citizenship laws are based off of the Jus sanguinis principle, which gives citizenship to anyone who has at least one parent who is Hungarian. Even if one does not live in Hungary, they can still be granted citizenship so long as one parent is Hungarian.

Original picture from http://www.duelamical.eu/hungary

If a person wants citizenship but did not have a Hungarian parent the person can apply and be granted citizenship if they have the following requirements:

  • 8 years continuous residence in Hungary
  • no criminal past
  • a stable livelihood
  • good character
  • passing a test in basic constitutional studies
  • adequate knowledge of Magyar

The wait time can be reduced to 3 years if you are married to a Hungarian citizen.

In short ,the new citizenship law that allows citizenship for people who have one or more Hungarian parent has increased the number of citizens of Hungary who do not live in Hungary but come from Romania, Serbia and the Ukraine. This interesting reform by the FIDESZ-KDNP government has expanded the Hungarian identity past its borders. The reform emphasizes that Hungary is less a political country, and more an homogeneous ethnically Hungarian nation, which has struggled to find itself since the boarder changes after World War II after it lost two thirds of its territory. More and more as I delve into the history and contemporary politics of Hungary I can see the reoccurring theme of pride in the Hungarian ethnicity and enacting political reforms to support this, and citizenship law is no different.

References:

Toth, J. European Union, EDUO Citizenship. (2010). Update: Changes in the Hungarian citizenship law and adopted on 26 may 2010 . Retrieved from website: http://eudo-citizenship.eu/docs/CountryReports/recentChanges/Hungary.pdf

Act LV of 1993 on Hungarian citizenship. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Hungary (2008, January 16). Retrieved from http://www.mfa.gov.hu/kulkepviselet/US/en/en_Konzuliinfo/en_ki_magyarallampolgarsag.htm

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