Austria wants to allow native German speakers in Italy’s border region of South Tyrol to hold Austrian nationality as well as Italian. But Italy disagrees.
But Italy’s far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has made it clear that his government will not allow it.
As reported by the BBC, the idea has been championed by the Austrian Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache, from the far-right Freedom Party.
Austria doesn’t usually allow dual citizenship, but Strache wants to make an exception for German and Ladin speakers in South Tyrol – but not for Italian speakers.
Barbara Varesco, a German-speaking journalist at the Dolomiti newspaper, says the proposals could end up dividing communities.
“The Italians don’t like it. And I’m also concerned that it will divide the German communities,” she was quoted as saying by the BBC. “There will be a kind of competition to see who will be the better Tyrolean. Already with an Italian passport, you can do almost everything, so it is not that you need an Austrian passport. I would like a European passport for all European citizens.”
Meanwhile, about half a million voters in Trentino-South Tyrol headed to the polls on October 21 to elect a new regional parliament, and two local authorities.
In a separate report, CNN noted that it seems the Alpine mountain range is coming between the love affair of the far-right League in Italy and the far-right Freedom Party in Austria.
Nicole Windegger, 26 has a German mother-tongue father and an Italian-speaking mother.
“My father would get an Austrian passport, and I would, but not my mother,” she told CNN. “I would prefer to keep things as they are.”
The ideal of full independence is inscribed in the statutes of the ruling South Tyrolean People’s Party, but its leading candidate, Arno Kompatscher, told the Agence France-Presse (AFP) that most people are happy with the status quo.
“According to polls by all parties, the top campaign issue is immigration. Dual citizenship comes very low down,” he said.