Switzerland Votes a Narrow ‘Yes’ to Cap EU Immigration

RT, February 10, 2014

Switzerland has voted 50.3 percent in favor of limiting annual migration from the EU, thus ending the policy of free movement within the bloc that was established in 2002.

Swiss voters narrowly decided that immigration quotas would be reintroduced, thereby overturning the free movement policy introduced in the European Union 12 years ago. Early results showed the country to be very divided in opinion over the ‘Stop mass immigration’ initiative.

‘Stop mass immigration’ was introduced by the nationalist Swiss People’s Party (SVP). Its goal is to introduce annual quotas on the number of foreign workers entering the country. The result will likely vex multinational companies based there; Roche, Novartis, UBS, and other industry giants frequently utilize foreign labor.

A man walks past posters of the Swiss People's Party (SVP) promoting the initiative to expel foreigners, in Lausanne, November 28, 2010. The posters read 'Ivan S., rapist and soon to be Swiss ?' and 'Yes to the initiative to expel foreigners'.

A man walks past posters of the Swiss People’s Party (SVP) promoting the initiative to expel foreigners, in Lausanne, November 28, 2010. The posters read ‘Ivan S., rapist and soon to be Swiss ?’ and ‘Yes to the initiative to expel foreigners’.

Before Sunday’s results were fully confirmed, it appeared that Swiss voters were completely divided over the issue, with early projections gauged from partial results and estimates showing a 50-50 split (with a three percent margin of error). Ten out of 26 cantons–state districts–and half-cantons had voted in favor of the initiative.

Public opinion institute Gfs.bern stated at first that the outcome seemed too close to call. However, it emerged by Sunday evening that more than half of Swiss cantons supported the move, according to Reuters.

Many in Switzerland–which is surrounded by the EU but is not a member–believe that rising immigration levels are putting pressure on infrastructure, rent prices, the social security system, and unemployment rates.

The SVP party has been campaigning for the amendment, saying that immigrants are destroying the nation’s Alpine identity and taking away skilled jobs.

“Many people feel this is challenging their identity, even if there isn’t any concrete economic impact on a personal level,” Georg Lutz, professor of political science at the University of Lausanne Georg, told Reuters.

“I don’t want to live like a sardine in a tin can,” independent politician Thomas Minder, who supports the initiative, told tabloid newspaper Blick.

According to the latest data, 23 percent of the country’s eight million inhabitants are foreigners–the second largest proportion in Europe after Luxembourg.

Many fear the initiative would have a negative impact on the economy, which relies on foreign workers for progress and a competitive edge.

Italians and Germans reportedly comprise the largest contingent of immigrants to Switzerland, most of whom seek work in IT, healthcare, and financial sectors.

Severin Schwan, Austrian CEO of Roche Pharmaceuticals, said about half of the employees at the research and development site in Basel, Switzerland are foreigners.

Hans Hess, head of Swissmem–a leader in electrical and mechanical engineering–believes that Switzerland’s economy is successful because of innovation, which requires a steady stream of qualified immigrants.

“Innovation is the driver of the Swiss economy. That’s why we need highly qualified workers inside Switzerland and from abroad,” Hess said.

Indeed, four in every ten new companies were founded by foreigners, according to Orell Fuessli Wirtschaftsinformationen AG. Those new companies also created 30,000 jobs in 2013.

Other than a skilled workforce, immigrants benefit the economy through consumer spending. Credit Suisse reported that about 25 percent of private consumption growth since 2008 was thanks to foreigners.

The constitutional amendment could potentially erode Switzerland’s relationship with the EU, which views the freedom of movement policy as a fundamental right.

Marine Le Pen, head of France’s far-right party, French National, tweeted her support for the outcome. “Switzerland says no to immigration of the masses, bravo! The European Union will be sending the tanks?…”

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  • DaveMed

    Eroding relationship? Fantastic!

    There’s little question that Europe needs to develop a pan-Continental identity, but the prerequisite for such a development is a resurgence of individual national identities.

    • Ella

      Europe will long before us since they have had more experience with wars and collapse.

      • DaveMed

        I don’t think America ever will.

        I’ve been watching a lot of Sam Dickson videos lately, and he makes the sobering point that America doesn’t really have a firm and sustainable sense of national identity; it is, in effect, a market.

        (My own opinion is that there was a window in which America had an identity, but it ended fairly quickly. )

        • antiquesunlight

          Southerners have (or at least had) a very strong sense of identity as Southerners, and old people in general (it seems to me) strongly identify as American, but something awful has happened in the last 3-5 decades. I don’t know if it was all the 60′s crap, or what.

          White Americans need to just move to Appalachia or something. We can help our own poor folks there and revitalize the place, and I don’t think blacks and Mexicans have any natural desire to live in mountains, so that’s a plus.

  • Marc Zuckurburg

    See, I knew there was a reason to get my money, all my money, my billions on top of billions, out of Switzerland.

    The Swiss people picked a country that looks like Switzerland over Marc Zuckurburg’s big fat Swiss bank accounts. That’s too bad for them.

  • sbuffalonative

    What troubles me is that the vote was as close as it was. Why?

    • Kronolog

      One must note that this vote was about regulating immigration from the EU – that is, about regulating the inflow of mainly ethnic Germans, Italians, French, Slavs etc. It wasn’t about regulating the inflow of Moslems, Blacks and other races from beyond Europe, which is likely why it was such a close call.

      • the sound the flood the hour

        I was under the impression that most muslims and blacks that enter europe do so through the EU. So that’s not true?

        • Kronolog

          I’m not sure what you mean? It’s true that they often enter into the EU when they arrive, though how many that are assisted in entering by the EU bureaucracy, I do not know. You are, however, bound to the country you first enter until you become citizen in it; then you can freely travel and take up work throughout the Union. It’s this right for EU-citizens, to freely take up work inside Switzerland and then settle there, that will now be curtailed. It’s somewhat peculiar that this has been illustrated in the article with a picture of posters from a completely different plebiscite.

          • the sound the flood the hour

            Sorry. Read my response to bantu above.

        • Bantu_Education

          Most of Europe is in the EU – so obviously this is the case – how else are they going to enter?

          • the sound the flood the hour

            I thought the EU oversees the immigration of people from outside the EU into the EU member states and once someone becomes an EU citizen then they have a right to move anywhere in the EU.

            Since Switzerland isn’t even an EU member I thought maybe most non-europeans who enter that country do so through the same trade deals with the EU that this referendum is targeting.

      • Ella

        It may be the only way to really limit Indian and Middle Eastern immigration without being “racists” to the EU and UN without the usual threats and sanctions.

      • Bantu_Education

        I suppose that a referendum on the real issue would be out of the question, as the very question would be racist?

      • NeanderthalDNA

        When these darkies are “citizens” of France, Germany, etc…

        They get regulated, do they not?

        It’s a start. The struggle is underway.

      • LHathaway

        Yes, but the inflow and outflow of groups like the ‘english’ and ‘french’ will likely include the inflow of lots of persons of color.

      • jeffaral

        You forget that being an “European” citizen does not mean the same as being of European ancestry. One third of the people living in France are from a foreign background.

      • TeutonicKnight67

        I wonder how many of those -ahem- “Germans” and *cough* “French” in Switzerland are actually native Europeans. I’m betting they were a lot more “diverse”..

        • Kronolog

          That’s a losing bet. To move to Switzerland from the EU, you need to get a job and a place to live there first. Everything is notoriously expensive in Switzerland, housing included, and most of the jobs requires advanced education. Non-western immigrants in Europe by large lack this capital or education.

    • Romulus

      I’ll give you one guess?

      See my other comment on this thread!

    • LHathaway

      I agree. . . 25% of the people ‘can’t see that far ahead’? And the other 25% are foreigners? That’s what the sign says ’1 in 4 living (and perhaps voting) in Switzerland’ aren’t Swiss. . .

    • jackryanvb

      Because it was about EU immigration.

      So that still translates as most White Western Europeans coming to work, spend money in Switzerland. Switzerland has a large tourism economy, so when referendums threatening to shut down people coming in to Switzerland, well it would be like trying to shut down tourism in Florida.

  • bigone4u

    Swiss chocolate is quite tasty. Swiss chocolate imported from Africa? Well, that African chocolate just can’t match the Swiss chocolate. So, the Swiss voted for their brand of chocolate. Good for them.

    • Bantu_Education

      Interesting that most cacao beans are grown in Africa yet nobody could imagine them making good chocolate. Or making anything that was good for that matter.

  • John R

    Why not have a vote in the US asking people simply if they would like to end ALL immigration-legal and otherwise. I bet that slightly over half would vote yes. But, I know it is a pipe dream-we stopped being a democracy years ago.

    • the sound the flood the hour

      you have to buy democracy these days.

  • Spartacus

    “Innovation is the driver of the Swiss economy. That’s why we need
    highly qualified workers inside Switzerland and from abroad,” Hess said.”

    ———————————————————————————————————————

    Which is why you don’t need darkies in your country .

  • Romulus

    Very interesting. This may well be the beginning of a trend. After all switzerland isnt just about clocks and chocolate. IT IS ALSO ABOUT BANKS with a capital J. The “leaders” in brussels will be kvetching over this. Of course, even “their” most famous scientist ISN’T SWISS!

  • skara_brae

    Potential Swiss citizen.

  • RisingReich

    SOMEHOW, I doubt the Swiss are objecting to ETHNIC Germans, Italians, and French….

    • Kronolog

      Still, that is precisely what they have done. A German from Berlin is, after all, quite different compared to a Swiss German from Zurich, and an Italian from Sicily is quite different compared to and Swiss Italian from Lugano.

      • MBlanc46

        Try taking a train from Italy to Switzerland sometime. When you get off, it’s as if you’re in a different world.

        • Bantu_Education

          I took the train from Zurich to Milan a few years ago – it was so serene and peaceful until we got near the Italian border and then all of a sudden lots of Italians boarded the train and it was mayhem..!

          • MBlanc46

            I imagine that’s what you get when you do it going south. And the shock of the filthy streets after been on streets you could eat off in Berne or Lausanne or Zurich.

  • Paul

    THis is quite concerning to me. I always thought that if you actually gave people a vote they would vote overwhelmingly against immigration. It seems I was wrong. All they need is a few more 3rd worlders and they will never be able to get the numbers up again.

    • Kronolog

      Read again; it’s not about third world immigration.

      • Paul

        Good Point, Thankyou.

      • Bantu_Education

        Nevertheless, there are a lot of turd-worlders in Switzerland and maybe a lot of them have the vote. I agree with Paul that the result was too close for comfort and wonder why? Could it be because its mainly neighbouring Europeans who will be affected and the Swiss do not see them as a problem?

        • Kronolog

          I don’t think there are enough non-Europeans to influence the outcome; in any case, foreign European elements would hold a larger sway given that there are way more foreign Italians and Germans in Switzerland than there are blacks or Moslems.

          It seems as if the proposition gathered the least support in the French-speaking cantos, likely because there are fewer French immigrants than there are Italian or German.

  • Ella

    The new immigrants probably did not pass the cleanliness inspection test. Swiss are very traditional people in a small, land-locked country with no place to expand. I’m glad they came to their senses before destroying their beautiful country. I believe there are plenty of gifted people to fill those tech jobs or from the EU if they have a “slight” vacancy.

  • Nancy Thomas

    How on earth did they get around the tribe?

  • William Allingham

    despite of what a Swiss flatmate i had in Germany believed (he said “we don’t have as much foreigners”) when i visited his country i knew there was something wrong, in fact i saw more blacks and Mohammeds in his canton than back in the small German city we were living in.