The “Unconstitutional Innovations” of the law 3838/2010

By Olga Eleftheriou

For a few months now, through “leaks”, we heard that the law 3838/2010 was considered unconstitutional on the 2 innovations it proposed. The first one was the right to vote and be voted (for positions of municipal counselors) in the local elections for specific categories of third-country citizens, who live legally in the country, and their homogeneous. The second innovation was the establishment of special procedures for the acquisition of the Greek citizenship for children of migrant parents (2nd generation) i) either by birth – if the parents are staying legally in Greece for at least 5 continuous years – ii) or after the successful completion of at least 6 grades in Greek school.

Even though the decision of the Council of State has not been published yet -thus we do not have any official response-, the arguments against that law gives me the motive to write a few things.

This law has been accused with phrases like “mass legalizations”, “mass Hellenisations”, and a “magnet” for people without legal documents.

According to official data from the Ministry of Interior / Citizen Management and Data Processing, from the activation of the law (June 2010) until April 2012 the applications for naturalization with the new procedure are as high as 9.936, while the approved applications until today are 155. As a conclusion, the 155 from those decisions cannot be considered -obviously- “mass Hellenisation”.

Those two years, the number of applications submitted by/or for 2nd generation children based on birth or attendance in Greek school, has come up to 16.854, while only 6.074 of them have been satisfied until April 2012. Not even this number could be considered as  “mass Hellenisation”.

The data about the participation of foreigners in local elections show that approximately only 13.000 immigrants and homogeneous together enrolled and voted according to the elections catalogue. A number that definitely does not change the final elections’ outcome.

Last but not least, let us make a few more comments about the argument on easy prerequisites for the acquisition of citizenship, which would lead to the rise of migrant flow without legal documents. According to available data by the Ministry of Interior, since March the arrests in our country rose to 132.259 in 2010, while in 2011 the number was 99.368, namely 33.086 less arrests. However, we need to note that, whoever reads the law understands that someone can apply for Greek citizenship only if he is legal and lives in the country for many consecutive years. These people have nothing to do with the flow of migrants without legit documents.

I would like to mention now the way that children with migrant origin can acquire the citizenship in some other European countries:


Since 2002, children who are born in Spain by migrant parents can acquire citizenship, if they lived in the country for at least one year before they applied for the naturalization process. The application can be submitted by their parents, while the prerequisite is the legitimacy of their living in the country. The child born by migrants, while one of them was also born in the country, acquires ex officio the citizenship. In general, in Spain the rule of sole citizenship is followed, though this rule has exceptions in cases of the 2nd and 3rd generation. The general trend of the most recent adjustments is the enablement of the naturalization process and the rising of the territorial law for the 2nd generation.


Children who are born in the country by migrant parents can acquire the Italian citizenship by submitting their application when they become 18 years old, considering they have lived legally and permanently in the country since their birth and until they became adults. Their application must be submitted within a year of their coming of age, without any further restrictions (after 2009).


In Holland, children of migrant parents who are legally established in the country or were born there, become citizens automatically. Children who were born in Holland, after they become adults, can also use the known procedure of “choice”, which is a simpler procedure than the naturalization interview. It is about various categories of people who have special bonds with Holland.

It seems unbelievable to me, that the Greek state refuses the right to Greek citizenship or even the right to live legally in the country for children with migrant background, children who were born in Greece or came here at an early age.

Because you can be born a Greek but you can also become one.


  2. Research on “Integration of Second Generation Immigrants in Greek society”, held by the National Centre for Social Research and the University of Patras.
  3. Doctoral Thesis on “The integration of immigrants. The problematic of the Second Generation.” Chaliapa Anastasia.