Abstract

The idea of dual citizenship emerged in Hungary with reference to a larger international process of the increasing use and tolerance of dual citizenship, partly within the European Union and partly within the East-Central European region. However, while in the major immigration states of Europe dual citizenship has been espoused above all by the political left as an instrument of integrating labour migrants, in Hungary, as in many other states of the region, the demand for dual citizenship has mostly, if not exclusively emanated from the political right and is predominantly directed at trans-border ethnic relatives. The novel aspect of the proposal was not the introduction of dual citizenship itself, since the option of obtaining a Hungarian second citizenship had long been available for permanent residents within the country. The innovation would have been to remove all residency requirements from among the pre-conditions of obtaining a Hungarian second citizenship.In the Hungarian referendum debate, the battle over dual citizenship has been cast as a debate between the nationalist right, as supporters, on the one hand, and the Europe oriented liberals, as opponents, on the other. Neither side in the Hungarian debate was able to present a coherent interpretation of those principles and international norms and practices that would support their respective positions. In the final analysis, it is quite possible that the conflicting stances of the left and the right will stem from concerns that are only vaguely connected to the problems of trans-border Hungarians.