Published On: Mon, Dec 1st, 2014

Swiss vote ‘no’ on immigration limits

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Swiss voters reject immigration cap

Swiss voters overwhelmingly rejected three separate proposals on Sunday under the country’s system of direct democracy. The most controversial, a proposal to drastically limit immigration, was rejected by 74 percent of voters, Swiss broadcaster SRF said.

The so-called Ecopop campaign wanted to cap net migration per year at 0.2 percent – around 16,000 people annually, a severe cut from the 80,000 people registered in 2013 – but widespread rejection from the government and all major parties meant it had always been unlikely to pass.

The poll follows the February approval by Swiss voters of an initiative demanding quotas for immigration from the EU, which the government in Bern is attempting to implement in a way acceptable to both Brussels and other European neighbors.

The initiative’s passing threw the EU’s relations with non-member Switzerland in turmoil, calling into question its commitment to a key tenet of bilateral agreements – the free movement of people. The EU maintains this is non-negotiable.

The government in Bern said on Sunday that the state of play between Switzerland and the EU was unchanged after the vote.

A proposal to require Switzerland’s central bank to significantly increase its gold reserves was also rejected.

A third set of proposals to abolish special tax perks for rich foreigners living in Switzerland was also defeated.

The separate proposals had needed a majority of voters and Switzerland’s 26 cantons (states) to pass.

jr/ (AP, Reuters)

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