Rift appears in coalition over citizenship bill

In the first sign of a disagreement within the new SYRIZA-led government, the leader of junior coalition partner Independent Greeks (ANEL), Panos Kammenos, indicated that the party’s 13 MPs would not back a bill granting citizenship to the children of immigrants living in Greece.

Noting that ANEL MPs “are not sheep,” Kammenos said they would vote according to their conscience… as the Constitution dictates.” Meanwhile SYRIZA officials played down the split, indicating that a coalition does not presuppose absolute agreement on everything but respect for democracy. They suggested that the bill was likely to get the backing of opposition MPs. In the countdown to elections, SYRIZA’s Tasia Christodoulopoulou, who is now alternate immigration policy minister, had said all children of immigrants would get citizenship under a SYRIZA government.

A law passed in 2010 which offers citizenship to the children of second-generation immigrants was deemed to partially violate the Constitution by the Council of State. The next government drafted a new law, granting citizenship to the children of immigrants who have completed nine years of studies at a Greek school, completed Greek secondary school education or graduated from a Greek university. The bill did not get to Parliament. Speaking to Kathimerini, the outgoing general secretary of the Interior Ministry, Angelos Syrigos, said he believed the bill would get 250 votes in the 300-seat House.