Konservatives change tune on citizenship rules

December 23rd, 2011

This article is more than 12 years old.

No longer in VKO partnership, party’s spokesperson says rules “don’t make any sense”

Despite being jointly responsible for the tightening of citizenship rules, the Konservative (K) party is now in favour of making citizenship easier to obtain, Politiken newspaper reports.

The party’s citizenship spokesperson, Tom Behnke, told the newspaper that some of the citizenship regulations put in place during the ten-year alliance of the Venstre-Konservative (VK) government and Dansk Folkeparti (DF) “don’t make any sense”.

“Even if you’ve gone to high school [in Denmark] and you are old enough to apply for citizenship, the current rules say you still need to pass a citizenship test,” he told the paper. “I just think … come on! That doesnÂ’t make any sense.”

Behnke also said it was unreasonable that those who receive unemployment benefits while working, a fleksjob (a part-time job for people who have a reduced ability to work), are barred citizenship, while those who receive unemployment benefits from a regular job are not.

According to Behnke, he had long tried to convince V and DF about the benefits of easing the barriers to citizenship, but the new political climate makes it easier for him to speak out.

“These are maybe policies that are easier for me as a Konservative to propose now than they were earlier,” Behnke said, referring to the largely anti-immigration climate fostered under the VKO alliance. “But now it’s a new situation and the majority in parliament has changed.”

DF citizenship spokesperson Christian Langballe cast doubts on the claim that Behnke had previously spoken out against the former governmentÂ’s immigration and citizenship policies.

“That is nonsense and disloyal; there was a good working relationship that the Konservative party also joined in, so I think it is nonsense to run from that joint responsibility,” Langballe told Politiken.

Behnke’s overtures on changing citizenship requirements were greeted warmly by the justice minister, Morten Bødskov (Socialdemokraterne).

“I’m happy that Konservative will now be a part of creating a broad alliance in the area of immigration,” Bødskov told Politiken. “The government invites everyone that wants to be a part of a new agreement to join in the discussions. And I think it is very positive if Konservative take the opportunity to come out of the straitjacket that the Dansk Folkeparti had put the party in.”


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