NEWS

Court questions legality of citizenship law

A panel of Council of State judges has ruled that a citizenship law passed last year, which allows foreigners who legally reside in Greece to vote and stand in local elections, is unconstitutional as only Greeks should be allowed this right.

In last November's local elections, about 13,000 non-EU residents joined some 15,000 EU citizens on the electoral register. A handful of foreign nationals also stood as candidates.

The citizenship law, passed early last year by the PASOK government, allows a child born in Greece to immigrant parents who have been living in the country legally to apply for citizenship.

The children will have to prove that they have spent at least six years in Greek schools.

The legislation allows second-generation immigrants to vote in local elections and to stand as city councilors after obtaining citizenship and proving that they have a good command of Greek.

Apart from ruling that only Greeks should be able to vote in local elections, the Council of State judges have suggested that citizenship is a blood right only available to Greeks. It also casts doubt on the validity of the criteria for gaining Greek citizenship.

Such a judgment clearly questions the legality of the law passed last year. However, the latest ruling is only a preliminary one and the matter has now been referred to the court?s plenary session.

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