There was always something strange about that woman to me.
by Tim Mak
Now that she’s a Swiss citizen, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) can vote and run for office in the country, but won’t be subject to its health insurance mandate.
POLITICO reported Tuesday that the Republican congresswoman became a Swiss citizen on March 19 due to her husband’s heritage. Her three youngest children also automatically received Swiss citizenship. (A Bachmann spokesperson said in an email that “some of their children wanted to exercise their eligibility for dual-citizenship so they went through the process as a family.”)
So what rights does Swiss citizenship confer?
It includes the option — some might say responsibility — to engage in the country’s participatory democracy. Each year, the country votes in four referendums relating to constitutional reform or grassroots-sponsored ballot questions; 100,000 votes are needed to trigger a referendum vote.
For example, had Bachmann been a Swiss citizen in 2005, she would have been eligible to vote in the landmark referendum legalizing absinthe, an alcoholic beverage with Swiss roots that had been constitutionally banned since October 1910.
Bachmann could vote via absentee ballot or the country’s online voting system. The country has about 5 million registered voters, according to ElectionGuide, with voter turnout ranging from 30 to 55 percent for each referendum.
However, Bachmann will not be forced to adhere to Switzerland’s health insurance mandate, which, in reference to President Barack Obama’s health care law, she has denounced as unconstitutional.
Bachmann and her family are also allowed to work — no green cards or permits necessary — in Switzerland, where the unemployment rate is around 3 percent. America’s unemployment rate was 8.1 percent in April.
Finally, Bachmann is eligible to run for office in Switzerland, should she decide to move there and meet residency requirements — a prospect she jokingly addressed Tuesday in an interview with Swiss TV.
“As you can see, there is a lot of competition behind me that I would have to run against, and it would be very stiff, because they’re very good,” said Bachmann, referring to a group of visiting Swiss parliamentarians standing behind her.
Bachmann’s children will not be subject to Swiss conscription law, as her three youngest children are all female. Her two sons, being older, are not yet Swiss citizens, but are eligible for a fast-track citizenship process.