MKs–even beauty queens–must annul second citizenship


The Central Elections Committee has ordered three Knesset members with dual citizenship to annul their foreign passports by next Tuesday’s swearing-in ceremony, or at least begin steps to cancel them.

The three lawmakers are Yohanan Plesner of Kadima (who has Danish citizenship), Nitzan Horowitz of Meretz (a Polish citizen) and Yisrael Beiteinu’s Anastasia Michaeli, who holds a Russian passport. The Basic Law on the Knesset states that “a member of Knesset holding an additional citizenship that is not Israeli … will not take the oath of loyalty until he has done everything he can to relinquish it.”

Isn’t that ironic? One of the MKs in question belongs to the party of Avigdor Lieberman, who campaigned on subjecting citizens to loyalty oaths.

A couple of other reactions: First, what could one’s “additional citizenship that is not Israeli” be? Can you be an Israeli-Israeli dual citizen? Second, and rather more substantively, how common are bans on dual citizenship for any given country’s legislators? I don’t think I have seen this issue arise before, although Horowitz is quoted as recognizing it as common and “completely legitimate.”

The full news item also contains the interesting trivium that Michaeli is a former Miss St. Petersburg beauty queen. Horowitz is one of a record number of ex-journalists to have been on Knesset lists this year.

Finally, digging a bit deeper* about Michaeli:

She will be the first woman MK to give birth in office, and will be the first convert in the Knesset.

She was previously at no. 44 on the Knesset list of Kadima. Evidently she is not only a dual citizen, but a dual partisan! The last-linked item also notes that “Movement between parties with differing ideologies is common among representatives of Russian immigrants.” (The Kadima candidacy was in 2006, when the party won 29 seats.) But she evidently has more in common with her new party’s leader, having complained on her Russian-language TV program that Israel’s entry into Eurovision 2007 “looks Arab.”)

* OK, I might just as well admit it: I was curious to know what the former beauty queen looked like, and Google is just so handy….

6 thoughts on “MKs–even beauty queens–must annul second citizenship

  1. There was the case of Harry Duynhoven in New Zealand who applied for Dutch citizenship while a sitting MP. MPs in NZ can be elected holding dual citizenship but they cannot take up a second citizenship while in office. His seat was found to be vacant upon application for Dutch citizenship in 2002 but the Government passed legislation in 2003 so he didn’t have to stand down.

  2. Close. My understanding is that, because the Aust Const speaks of “allegiance” rather than “citizenship” as such, dual citizenship is permitted if the MP has done everything within their power to renounce it but the other country refuses to exercise its discretion to revoke the foreign citizenship (or else won’t allow revocation, full stop – I believe Greece may be in this category which is why the several Theophanoi who have graced Australia’s various legislatures got to sit despite having dual citizenship).

    Quaere whether “do everything within your power” extends to “vote for the Biddelonia (Most Favoured Nation) Tariff Subsidies Bill if elected, or else the Biddelonian Govt won’t revoke your Biddelonian nationality”.

    The High Court’s interpretation makes sense since, ironically – if dual citizenship were an absolute bar regardless what efforts the MP took to renounce it – foreign govts would have more control over who could sit in the Aust legislature. (“Today, the Govt of Singapore conferred Singaporean citizenship on Pauline Hanson MHR…”)

  3. I recall reading a few years ago that Vaira V??e-Freiberga, the former president of Latvia, had to give up her Canadian citizenship when she assumed that position.

  4. Tamil Eelam News claims that the current Defense Minister of Sri Lanka, Gottabaya Rajapakse (brother of the president) is a US citizen. (For whatever it might be worth, the Wikipedia bio page gives no such indication, though it does say he once managed a 7-11 in the US; the Tamil Eelam News may be affiliated with the LTTE.)

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