Nancy Holten - Swiss News - Swizerland Politics

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Nancy Holten is annoying — so annoying that residents of the small village in Switzerland she calls home voted, twice, to bar her from becoming Swiss. The 45-year-old was born in the Netherlands but moved to Switzerland when she was just 8 years old. She speaks fluent Swiss German, her children are Swiss and she says she feels Swiss. “Switzerland is my home,” she said in a recent interview in the small apartment she shares with her three teenage daughters in the northern village of Gipf-Oberfrick. So when she finally got around to applying for citizenship back in 2015, she expected the process to be easy. She was wrong. As part of Switzerland’s famous direct democratic system, some smaller municipalities leave naturalization decisions up to a vote by the town assembly. Critics say the system allows for more emotionally charged and potentially more discriminatory decisions. When Holten showed up for the vote in the village of around 3,500 inhabitants, her neighbors had turned out in unusually high numbers to reject her. The outspoken vegan and animal rights activist had rubbed many in the small, conservative community the wrong way with her alternative lifestyle and vocal criticism of the ultimate Swiss symbol: the cowbell. “These bells hurt their ears,” she said, picking up a heavy brass cowbell she had purchased. She passed the colorfully embroidered strap over her head and covered her ears as the bell clanged loudly around her neck. “I don’t mind traditions as long as they don’t hurt…

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