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  • 1 University of Debrecen, Faculty of Political and Law Sciences Debrecen, Hungary
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In 1879, Hungarian legislators deemed it was time to settle the issue of citizenship once and for all. The moment was not chosen by mere accident, because the previous years had witnessed an upsurge of legislative acts striving to legally settle the question of who should belong to the states of Europe. The bill was discussed and opined by the Naturalization Committee of the Parliament. The most important problems were the naturalization and the absence. The first regulation of Hungarian citizenship according to the contemporary constitutional reforms and legal practice only took place in 1879. It is a major milestone in Hungarian citizenship law, since it also incorporated in its system the cases of acquisition and loss of citizenship. The law contains detailed provisions on how the legal relationship between the citizen and the state could be established and terminated. The objective of the law was to make the system of citizenship clear and transparent.

  • Imre Korbuly, Magyarország közjoga illetőleg a magyar államjog rendszere [Hungarian public law and the system of Hungarian state law] (Budapest, 1884), 138; Kisteleki, ibid., 50; Ferenczy, ibid., 31-32.

  • Ferenczy, ibid., 63.

  • Ibid., 66.

  • Pongrácz, ibid., 31-32; Ferenczy, ibid., 67.

  • Ernő Nagy, ibid., 116.

  • Ferenczy, ibid., 68.

  • Ministry of the Interior official communication no. 52.550/1903, Ministry of the Interior Decree no. 27.899/1904. in.: Ferenczy, ibid., 158-159.

  • Ferdinándy, ibid., 239.

  • A child otherwise of legal age could not obtain citizenship by the right of his or her father. Ministry of the Interior Decree no. 1556/1887 in: Ferenczy, ibid., 157; Pongrácz, ibid., 30-31.

  • Károly Kisteleki, "Az állampolgárság a dualizmus idején" [Citizenship at the Time of the Dual Monarchy], Állam és Jogtudomány, (1996-1997): 42.

  • Issued in Budapest, August 13, 1879 under no. 2319. OLI: 1879 - I - B - 89.

  • OLI: 1879 - I - B - 89, Document. no. 2319.

  • Ibid.

  • Received by the Royal Ministry of the Interior on August 21, 1879 under 38607.

  • From among these, the Minister emphasized the requirement of residence in the country for at least five years without interruption, as well as to have been registered in the tax registry of any township for at least the same period. OLI: 1879 - I - B - 89, 2485. I. B. document no. 89/2444.

  • A bill was also drafted to settle citizenship in the country of Croatia and Slavonia. Belügyminiszteri Általános Iratok [General Documents of Minister of the Interior] (hereinafter: Bm. Ált. Iratok) K 150 II. no. 48295.

  • Ministry of the Interior Resolution no. 3257/1886 in: Ferenczy, ibid., 159-160. If their conjugal life was subsequently restored, then the husband's citizenship was also extended to his wife. Official communication of the Ministry of Justice no. 52.280/1900 in: Ferenczy, ibid., 160-162.

  • Act 50 of 1879, Section 14. Ministry of the Interior Decree no. 584/1880 regulates the records to be made at the taking of the oath, in.: Ferenczy, ibid., 172-173.

  • Ferenc Ferenczy argues that the word "re-naturalization" is not appropriate, since the person involved is not "regaining some old, lost right," but is acquiring a new right. "Citizenship by way of so-called re-naturalization is not restitutio in integrum, but a new citizen's right." He saw this reasoning justified by the taking of the oath and other, similar procedural rules. Ferenczy, ibid., 66; Pongrácz, ibid., 28-29.

  • Such certificates had no temporal restrictions; however, if a person lost his or her citizenship due to ten years' of absence, then the certificate itself also became ineffective. It was considered as an authentic proof of citizenship until proved otherwise. Ministry of the Interior official communication no. 44.451/1900 in: Ferenczy, ibid., 152.

  • Országos Levéltár Iratai [Documents of the National Archives] (hereinafter: OLI): 1879 - I - B - 89 (1879 - I - B - 2444), Document no. 2444, Subject no. 38607. (August 21, 1879), postscript no. 2485.

  • Ferdinándy, ibid., 242.

  • Ernő Nagy, ibid., 111; Edit Madari and Maria Parragi, The New Act on Hungarian Nationality. Acta Juridica Hungarica (1993), 68; József Hargitai, A magyar állampolgársági jog de lege lata (gondolatok néhány alapelvről) [Hungarian citizenship law de lege lata (thoughts on some basic principles)]. Magyar Jog (1993) 721.

  • 65.268/1888. Ministry of the Interior official communication in: Ferenczy, ibid., 170.

  • Ferenczy, ibid., 64.

  • Korbuly, ibid., 140; Ferenczy, ibid., 65, 174.

  • Ferdinándy, ibid., 239-242; Ernő Nagy, ibid., 111-112.

  • Ernő Nagy, ibid., 110. A similar agreement was also in place between Hungary and Serbia (Act 30 of 1882).

  • Ferenczy, ibid., 65.

  • Sándor Berényi, Nándor Tarján, A magyar állampolgárság megszerzése és elvesztése (honosság, letelepülés, kivándorlás, útlevélügy). Az 1879. évi L. törvény-czikk és az ezzel kapcsolatos törvényeks rendeletek gyűjteménye és magyarázata [The acquisition and loss of Hungarian citizenship (national status, settling, emigration, passport regulations). A collection and explanation of Act 50 of 1879, as well as related laws and regulations] (Budapest, 1905), 14; Ferenczy, ibid., 57.

  • Ferenczy, ibid., 58.

  • Zlinszky, ibid., 50-51.

  • Ibid., 51.

  • In case of birth it is the transfer of an old right and not the obtaining of a new one, which proves that the child is not an acquirer of rights, only the inheritor of an already existing right. Ferenczy, ibid., 58.

  • The practical implementation of the law, however, raised a number of issues with regard to which several supplementary regulations had to be issued by the competent ministries. Decree of the Minister of the Interior no. 24.553/1888. in.: Ferenczy, ibid., 153.

  • Ferdinándy, ibid., 238-239; Arthur Balogh, Politikai Jegyzetek [Political notes] (Budapest, 1905), 91; Ferenczy, ibid., 31.

  • As concerning the special Hungarian nature, Jenő Péchy's speech argued for the legal continuity of the previous Hungarian practice, the principle of descent (ius sanguinis, the principle of kinship): "on the one hand, the bill will not immediately divest our homeland's citizen that has emigrated, and probably entered the ties of a foreign state from his citizenship; on the other hand, it will not give up the children of citizens that has inclined - partly owing to the conditions - towards foreign lands, and been perhaps forgetful of their homeland, and these children will be reclaimed by Hungary, just like any legitimate children of Hungarian citizens and illegitimate children of Hungarian women, as their homeland always hopes to reckon upon them with good reason, and regards them as Hungarian citizens, even if their place of birth is in a foreign land, because it is just the same; 'Eagles beget only eagles'. And Hungarian blood cannot deteriorate to affect the descendants; not other than Hungarian can part from the breasts of Hungarian mothers, no matter how northern fog or the searing southern sun hailed his coming to life." J. Péchy: Ibid., Napló [Journals], vol. VII, 269.

  • Ibid., Napló [Journals], vol. VII, 270-271. Contribution by Nándor Szederkényi.

  • "This bill was submitted on the 8th of this month, this year, but the government made the committee to debate it on the 18th and in ten days, thus today has been presented to the House." Ibid., Napló [Journals], vol. VII, 270.

  • Ibid., Napló [Journals], vol. VII, 271.

  • Joined by eleven representatives, Nándor Szederkényi introduced his proposals to the House as a vote, requesting that the House of Representatives should recommit the bill to the Naturalization Committee with a view to the objections made by him "to amend, correct and reframe it in the future." The vote as proposed did not receive a majority. Ibid., Napló [Journals], vol. VII, 273.

  • Képviselőházi irományok [Documents of the House of Representatives] (hereinafter: K. i.) 1878-81, no. 338, 264.

  • Ibid., K. i. no. 338, 264-266.

  • Ibid., K. i. no. 338, 276.

  • Ibid., K. i. no. 338, 277.

  • Ibid., K. i. no. 338, 277.

  • Ibid., K. i. no. 338, 277.

  • Ibid., K. i. no. 338, 278.

  • Ibid., K. i. no. 338, 278.

  • Ibid., K. i. no. 338, 276-278.

  • Ibid., K. i. no. 371, 209.

  • Ibid., K. i. no. 371, 210.

  • Ibid., K. i. no. 371, 210.

  • Ibid., Napló [Journals], vol. VII, 277. Speech by L. Mocsáry.

  • Ibid., Napló [Journals], vol. VII, 277.

  • Ibid., Napló [Journals], vol. VII, passim. Speech by Imre Veszter.

  • Ibid., Napló [Journals], vol. VII, 290.

  • Ibid., Napló [Journals], vol. VII, 290.

  • Ibid., Napló [Journals], vol. VII, 292. Speech by Pál Hoffman.

  • Ibid., Napló [Journals], vol. VII, 292.

  • Ibid., Napló [Journals], vol. VII, 302-303.

  • When considering the speeches held throughout the debate, Dániel Irányi's contribution can be regarded as an outstanding one: "… I view it as impossible that this provision of Act 1868 shall be amended by the common Parliament. I view this right as impossible: impossible with respect to national dignity, and impossible for prudence. Law cannot allow a bilateral agreement to be withdrawn unilaterally. Law requires that a bilateral agreement be modified by common assent. Even national dignity, the chivalry of the nation cannot endure that what has been promised solemnly, may be recalled … Ultimately, prudence cautions us, gentlemen, against offending those without a cause whose friendship may be highly precious to us, and whose hostile vein may hurt us." Ibid., Napló [Journals], vol. VII, 324.

  • Márton Hegyessi's speech seems to be typical: "More than 40 years ago, István Széchenyi said that we were so few in number that even the parricide had to be given pardon - just not to let Hungarian people abate, yet we had the tendency to find artificial causes to diminish ourselves as we could." Ibid., Napló [Journals], vol. VII, 365.

  • Ibid., Napló [Journals], vol. VII, 370.

  • Ibid., Napló [Journals], vol. VII, 376.

  • Ibid., Napló [Journals], vol. VII, 377.

  • Ibid., K. i. no. 383, 242.

  • Ibid., K. i. no. 383, 243.

  • Ibid., K. i. no. 383, 243.

  • Ibid., K. i. no. 403, passim.

  • The related request was made by the Prime Minister in his summons no. 3392, dated December 6, 1879. OLI: K 26 - 1879 - II - 3498 (1879 - II - 203).

  • To read the full text see: OLI: K26 - 1879 - II - 3498 (1879 - II - 203).

  • OLI: 1879 - I - B - 89, PM's document no. 2444.

  • We must also note, however, that the law nevertheless also contained some methods of acquisition of citizenship, which were not mentioned in Section 3 of Act 50 of 1879. These were the following: the "right of land" (jus soli) and favored re-naturalization. Ferenc Ferenczy,: ibid., 57, Act 50 of 1879, Section 19, 38-44.

  • Arthur Balogh differentiated between them on the basis of the legal consequences effected by naturalization, and accordingly differentiated between naturalization of smaller and larger legal effect, similarly to Belgians. Balogh, ibid., 91-92.

  • Any exception to this regulation was regarded as justified by the Minister only if the aim was the acquisition of Austrian citizenship. OLI: 1879 - I - B - 89, 2485. I. B. document no. 89/2444.

  • Ibid.

  • Dated. Vienna, August 27, 1879. Ibid.

  • Károly Kisteleki, ibid., passim.

  • For J. Péchy's speech, cf. Ibid., Napló [Journals], vol. VII, 268.

  • Ferenczy, ibid., 62.

  • Ministry of the Interior Decree no. 584/1880 in: Ferenczy, ibid., 172; Ministry of the Interior Decree no. 29.212/1895 in: ibid., 174.

  • Such regulation also appears in the citizenship law of the United States of America, which causes problems more than once in naturalization cases. In.: Katalin Gönczi, A magyarok az amerikai Legfelsőbb Bíróság előtt [Hungarians before the Supreme Court] (Budapest, 2000), 46-51; Ferenczy, ibid., 59-60.

  • Ibid. Appendices to the letter: the draft and justification of the bill on the acquisition and loss of Hungarian citizenship (2 copies), the draft of the supreme decision (1 copy).

  • Korbuly, ibid., 138; Kisteleki, ibid., 50; Ministry of the Interior Decree no. 23.319/1903. in: Ferenczy, ibid., 158; Ernő Nagy, ibid., 109.

  • OLI: 1879 - I - B - 89, CC's document no. 38. The related abstract reads the following. The Prime Minister introduced the bill on the acquisition and loss of Hungarian citizenship to the Cabinet Council; the Council approved the bill, and authorized the Prime Minister to put it forward in Parliament as assented by the King. In the absence of the Cabinet Council's notary, the document was signed by the Department Councilor.

  • Ministry of the Interior decree no. 115.702/1904 in: Ferenczy, ibid., 167. The connection between naturalization and township residence is further regulated by Ministry of the Interior decree no. 8497/1905 in: Ferenczy, ibid., 167-168.

  • Korbuly, ibid., 139; Ministry of the Interior executive decree no. 584/1880 in: Ferenczy, ibid., 163. According to the Austrian Civil Code of 1811, the following conditions had to be met for naturalization: legal capacity, no criminal record, proof of income, admittance to a township either concluded or in progress. Naturalization belonged to the competence of provincial authorities with the Minister of the Interior intervening in cases of disputed issues only. A certificate of the naturalization was issued, and an oath had to be taken. Minors were either exempted from under the oath, or it was postponed until they would come of age. Eöttevényi, ibid., 47.

  • Károly P. Szathmáry, ed., Az 1878. évi október 17-ére hirdetett országgyűlés képviselő-házának naplója [Journals of the House of Representatives of the Parliament Summoned to October 17, 1878] (hereinafter: Journals), vol. VII, (Budapest, 1879), 213.

  • "… in ten years under this Act who is to prevent every single person from faraway eastern lands from being a Hungarian citizen, representative and minister …? It is required by the very existence of the nation that we have to offer the safeguard to the country that the majority of the legislature will always be constituted by natural born Hungarians, and no one may be involved only those who with respect to their merits have been made deserving by the legislature …" Ibid., Napló [Journals], vol. VII, 307, 309.

  • From among the 442 representatives being validly present, 105 voted yeas, 74 voted nays, while the others were absent. For that matter, this "under representation" was typical of the whole period, and the majority of representatives expressed their lack of concern for the issue by their absence.

  • Andor Csizmadia, "A magyar állampolgársági jog fejlődése" [The Development of Hungarian Citizenship Law] Állam és Közigazgatás (1969): 1083-1084; Károly Kisteleki, ibid., 43-50; Károly Besnyő ed., A magyar állampolgárság (Megszerzése és elvesztése a gyakorlatban) [Hungarian Citizenship (Its Acquisition and Loss in Practice)] (Budapest, 1982), 29-31, Károly P. Szathmáry, ed., ibid., vol. VII, (Budapest, 1879), 213, 246, 268-286, 290-337, 339-402; Károly P. Szathmáry, ed., Az 1878. évi október 17-ére hirdetett országgyűlés képviselőházának naplója [Journals of the House of Representatives of the Parliament summoned for 17 October 1878], vol. VIII (Budapest, 1879), 111, 248; Ibid., 1880, vol. IX, 226. As concerning the debate on the citizenship law, further guidance can be found in the proceedings of the House of Representatives: Az 1878. évi október hó 17-re hirdetett országgyűlés képviselő-házának jegyzőkönyve [Proceedings of the House of Representatives of the Parliament summoned for 17 October 1878], volume VII (Budapest, 1879), 17, 21, 24-29, 35, 40-62, 77-78, 93, 101-102, 153; Hugó Maszák, ed., Az 1879. évi október 17-re hirdetett országgyűlés főrendi házának naplója [Journals of the Upper House of the Parliament summoned for 17 October 1878] vol. I (Budapest, 1880), 303, 310-312, 317, 370. The text and justification of the act passed can be found in the National Archives under no. 2387/1879. K 26 - 1879 - II - 3498 (1879 - II - 203).

  • Hugó Maszák, ed., Az 1879. évi október 17-re hirdetett országgyűlés főrendi házának naplója [Journals of the Upper House of the Parliament summoned for 17 October 1878] vol. I (Budapest, 1880), 303, 310-312, 317, 370.

  • Ferenc Ferenczy, Magyar állampolgársági jog [Hungarian citizenship law] (Gyoma, 1930), 57; Emanuel Milner: Studien zum Österreichischen Staatsrechte I. Die Österreichische Staatsbürgerschaft und der Gesetzartikel L: 1879 über den Erwerb und Verlust der Ungarischen Staatsbürgerschaft. (Tübingen, 1880), 47-48; According to the Civil Code of 1811, Austrian citizenship could be acquired by way of marriage, legitimization, descent, naturalization, and entering civil service. The last case was a debated one, since the above mentioned law also declared that only Austrian citizens could undertake public office. Olivér Eöttevényi Nagy, Osztrák közjog [Austrian public law] (Budapest. 1913), 46-47; Andor Csizmadia, ibid., 1084-1085; Géjza Ferdinándy, Magyarország közjoga (Alkotmányjog) [Public law of Hungary (Constitutional law)] (Budapest, 1902), 238; Gusztáv Ladik, Közigazgatásunk fejlődése 1867. óta [The development of Hungarian public administration since 1867] (Budapest, 1933), 11. Imre Zlinszky, A magyar magánjog mai érvényben különös tekintettel a gyakorlat igényére [Hungarian private law in effect today, with special attention to the demands of practice] (Budapest, 1894), 50-51; Jenő Pongrácz, Magyar állampolgárság és községi illetőség. Törvények, rendeletek, elvi határozatok, díjak és illetékek, magyarázat, iratminták [Hungarian citizenship and township residence. Laws, decrees, principle decisions, fees and dues, explanation, sample documents] (Budapest, 1938), passim.

  • Official communication of the Ministry of Justice no. 26.538/1904 in: Ferenczy, ibid., 164-165.

  • József Kun, Nép, nemzet, nemzetiség [People, nation, nationality] (Budapest, 1908), 174-175; Ferenczy, ibid., 61.

  • Ministry of Finance Decree no. 44.130/1881 in: Ferenczy, ibid., 168-169.

  • Balogh, ibid., 91.

  • The law made it possible for the Csángó [Hungarian-speaking native of Moldavia] Hungarians of Bukovina to re-settle in large numbers, "and was brought to existence by the recognition that these otherwise lost Hungarians should be saved for the Hungarian nation, and should be given every concession to facilitate their return. It is not impossible that this law will make good services in the future as well." Ferenczy, ibid., 68-69; Ernő Nagy, ibid., 116; Pongrácz, ibid., 32.

  • A certificate of Hungarian citizenship could also only be issued by the Hungarian Royal Minister of the Interior. Ministry of the Interior Decree no. 24.565/1887 in: Ferenczy, ibid., 152. This was also underlined by the Ministry of the Interior's general decree no 45.516 of 1878 stating that county, municipal and township authorities did not have the powers to issue such certificates in: ibid., 152.

  • The provision was in effect in Hungary whereby if an Austrian citizen immigrated to Hungary in the 1840s or 1850s, then he could obtain Hungarian citizenship by way of simple naturalization. In case of returning to his original country, however, this acquired right was lost. The royal decree no. 10.661 of 1814 was applied whereby citizenship could be acquired implicitly by uninterrupted and proved residence in the country for ten years. Ministry of the Interior registry no. 553/1887 in.: Ferenczy, ibid., 153-154. The same is set forth in Ministry of the Interior Decree no. 2194/1886. in: Ibid., 155.

  • Ministry of the Interior official communication no. 33.325/1888; in: Ferenczy, ibid., 156.

  • Ferenczy, ibid., 32.

  • Ibid., 32; Ministry of the Interior Decree no. 20.723/1896 in: Ibid., 175.

  • Korbuly, ibid., 140; Ferenczy, ibid., 34.

  • Korbuly, ibid., 140; Nagy, ibid., 109.

  • Ferenczy, ibid., 34-35; Ministry of the Interior Decree no. 20.723/1869 in: Ibid., 175.

  • Ferdinándy, ibid., 239. The original Hungarian expression "férjhez megy" can only be applied to women. The author maintains that, apart from being more genuinely Hungarian, this expression better expresses the fact that only a woman was able to acquire Hungarian citizenship this way.

  • Ibid., 239.

  • Ferenczy, ibid., 86; József Tar, Állampolgárság [Citizenship] (Debrecen, 1941), 25.

  • Berényi, Tarján, ibid., 109-111.

  • Géjza Ferdinándy on the other hand, used the expression "honfiúsítás" together with "honosítás." Ferdinándy, ibid., 238-239.

  • Ferenczy, ibid., 35. Date of coming into force: January 5, 1880.