Swiss anti-immigration referendum split

Fifty percent voted in favour and 50 percent against capping immigration, according to latest projections by Swiss TV.

Last updated: 09 Feb 2014 16:52
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback

Swiss voters were split down the middle on whether to curb immigration by European Union citizens, in a referendum seen as a crunch test of the country's ties with the 28-member bloc.

Fifty percent voted in favour and 50 percent against capping immigration, according to the latest projections by Swiss television station SRF.

Ten out of 26 Swiss cantons had voted in favour of the so-called initiate "stop mass immigration", projections showed.

The referendum, spearheaded by the right-wing Swiss People's Party (SVP), needs more than 50 percent to pass, as well as a majority of Switzerland's 26 cantons, which are the equivalent of US states.

EU relations

A vote in favour, which comes 12 years after a free movement of people agreement with the EU came into force, could hurt the Swiss economy dependent on foreign professionals by increasing red tape and jeopardising bilateral accords with the bloc, according to Reuters news agency. 

It would impose an absolute limit on the number of foreigners who can move to Switzerland each year.

The measure would bind the Swiss government to renegotiate within three years a deal with Brussels that since 2007 has given most EU citizens free access to the country's labour market.

It could also put Switzerland, which prides itself on a long humanitarian tradition, at odds with international accords on asylum.

To maintain its neutrality, Switzerland is not a member of the European Union, but has long-standing agreements with the EU and this vote is seen as a test of those ties.


Al Jazeera and agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Featured on Al Jazeera
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Nearly half of Canadians have suffered inappropriate advances on the job - and the political arena is no exception.
Women's rights activists are demanding change after Hanna Lalango, 16, was gang-raped on a bus and left for dead.
Buried in Sweden's northern forest, Sorsele has welcomed many unaccompanied kids who help stabilise a town exodus.
A look at the changing face of North Korea, three years after the death of 'Dear Leader'.
While some fear a Muslim backlash after café killings, solidarity instead appears to be the order of the day.
Victims spared by the deadly disease are reporting blindness and other unexpected post-Ebola health issues.