After a British blogger uncovered one Australian politician’s status as a dual national, Australia’s High Court ruled that several federal lawmakers, who were also found to hold dual national citizenships were ineligible to run for their seats due to a 114-year-old law that prevents dual citizens from being elected.
The scandal that forced several politicians to resign also unseated Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce of the National Party. Joyce has since renounced his dual citizenship, allowing him a chance to retain his seat in a by-election on Dec. 2.
If Joyce loses the election on Dec. 2, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s supporters in the House of Representatives would decrease to just 75 seats in a 150-seat body of legislators.
Turnbull said he was confident that Joyce would win the support of his constituents again and allowed him to remain in Parliament and make decisions despite facing the prospect that he would be declared ineligible.
“The decision of the court today is clearly not the outcome we were hoping for,” Mr. Turnbull said, “but the business of government goes on.”
Politicians Matt Canavan of the Liberal National Party, Malcolm Roberts of the One Nation party, Fiona Nash of the Nationals, Nick Xenophon of the Nick Xenophon Team, and Larissa Waters of the Australian Greens party were also affected by the scandal. Local news media named the group of politicians “the citizenship Seven,” as the cases worked their way through the courts.
The courts only granted Canavan and Xenophon’s runs as legitimate.
Many of the politicians claimed to be unaware of their dual citizenship status, including Xenophon, who discovered he held a rare type of British citizenship through his father, who left a British-ruled island called Cyprus before it gained its independence.
Joyce, who holds dual citizenship with New Zealand, said he had not known he could be a citizen of the country through his father until he heard it in the local news media.
In a news conference, Mr. Joyce said he was prepared for the court ruling against him.
“It is a tough game, politics. You dedicate so much of your time to it,” he said. “You take the hits and the sacrifices.”