Michele Bachmann: Presidential Candidate, Swiss Citizen

By Stanley Renshon and Stanley Renshon on May 10, 2012

I have to admit that I was startled to read the Politico headline: "Bachmann claims Swiss citizenship". Could this be the very same Michele Bachmann that the Weekly Standard dubbed "Queen of the Tea Party"?

It couldn't be. But it was.

What was she thinking? She had just finished making a determined, if unsuccessful, run for the United States presidency. And she had done so as a champion of conservative causes and principals.

Do those now include dual citizenship?

Nor did her reasoning give much confidence. In one version, she did it for her children: "Congresswoman Bachmann's husband is of Swiss descent, so she has been eligible for dual-citizenship since they got married in 1978. However, recently some of their children wanted to exercise their eligibility for dual-citizenship so they went through the process as a family", said Bachmann spokesperson Becky Rogness.

In another version, "Bachmann's husband, Marcus, applied for Swiss citizenship (both of his parents hailed from the famously neutral nation), and when his application was approved, she decided to do the same — as his wife, she's eligible, too."

In still another version, she said, "I automatically became a dual citizen of the United States and Switzerland in 1978 when I married my husband, Marcus. Marcus is a dual American and Swiss citizen because he is the son of Swiss immigrants. As a family, we just recently updated our documents."

In yet another version, Politico reported that, according to Arthur Honegger, a reporter for Swiss public broadcaster Schweizer Fernsehen, "Marcus Bachmann, the congresswoman's husband since 1978, reportedly was eligible for Swiss citizenship due to his parents' nationality — but only registered it with the Swiss government February 15. Once the process was finalized on March 19, Michele automatically became a citizen as well". (emphasis added)

Well, not quite, according to this Q & A from the Swiss Government:

I am a foreigner and married to a Swiss citizen. How can I apply for naturalisation?

You must have lived in a stable marriage with your spouse for at least three years, have lived in Switzerland for five years all in all, the last twelve months of which must be without interruption. If you live abroad, you must have lived in a stable marriage for at least six years and must have close connections with Switzerland. Regardless of where you live, you must be integrated in the Swiss way of life at least by analogy, comply with the Swiss rule of law, and you must not endanger Switzerland's internal or external security.


The Swiss spouse must have been of Swiss citizenship before marriage.

Hmmm … it doesn't seem to say you get automatic citizenship by marrying a Swiss national without applying for it.

But it is her judgment, not the specific circumstances of her decision, that raises questions.

Next: Michele Bachman's Dual Citizenship: The "Tea-Party Queen" Strikes an Ironic Blow Against Immigrant Assimilation