The Austrian Ministry of the Interior confirmed reports that it intends to again keep secret the names of applicants naturalised based on their “outstanding achievements”. The ministry argues there would be no legal basis to make them public and data protection regulations would force authorities to keep them secret.
According to Article 10 (6) of the Austrian Citizenship Act an individual may be granted Austrian citizenship without having met the requirements for ordinary naturalisation “if the Federal Government confirms that the granting of nationality is in the particular interests of the Republic by reason of the alien’s actual and expected outstanding achievements.” Names of the applicants who could benefit from this provision were kept secret until May last year, when the government under then new chancellor Christian Kern (Social Democrats, SPÖ) decided to make them public. The Ministry of the Interior of the new government, a coalition between the conservative People’s Party (ÖVP) and the far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ), now intends to go back to the status quo ante.
Since 1983 1.440 persons have been granted Austrian citizenship based on “outstanding achievements”. In 2012 a Freedom Party politician was found guilty for offering citizenship in exchange for a major investment and payment to the party coffers. Media have suspected several other cases of political corruption in the context of fast track celebrity naturalisations.
Further readings (in German):
– Addendum: Promi-Staatsbürgerschaften: Regierung nennt keine Namen mehr, 31 July 2018
– Der Standard: Regierung prüft Veröffentlichung der Promistaatsbürgerliste, 1 August 2018