Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Switzerland about to vote for or against immigration

The arguments being waged echo Brexit campaigns.

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Foreigners make up around 25% of the Swiss population and many citizens have decided that’s enough.

As a result, the Swiss people will vote on Sunday whether to shred a pact with the European Union (EU) on the free movement of people.

A referendum campaign has exposed rifts in society over immigration similar to those being experienced in other European countries.

The conservative Swiss People’s Party (SVP), the biggest party in parliament, is leading an attempt to seize back control of immigration from the EU.

The SVP is appealing to citizens who see their culture as being at risk from unchecked immigration.

“Migrants change our culture. Public squares, trains and streets become more unsafe. In addition, practically half of all welfare recipients are foreigners,” its campaign website says.

Opponents say foreigners are essential skilled workers, especially in health care, and as vital workers for giant pharmaceutical companies such as Roche and Novartis.

Switzerland is not a member of the EU but relies heavily on agreements that guarantee Swiss access to the EU single market,

Left-wing parties warn that a vote to restrict immigration would impact negatively on such agreements, jeopardising Swiss business profits.

The arguments for and against immigration echo campaigns that led up to the Brexit votes and Britain eventually exiting the EU.

A Swiss opinion poll has found 63% of the country opposes the SVP proposal and 35% supports it.

This is being interpreted as an indication that voters want stability at a time of economic uncertainty amid the coronavirus pandemic.

It seems that Swexit may not be on the cards yet.

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