Switzerland votes in a referendum to curb immigration

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SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – The Swiss are voting in a referendum on whether to limit immigration to no more than 0.2% of the population, in a vote heavily criticised by the main political parties. If passed, the measure would require the government to reduce immigration from about 80,000 to 16,000 people a year.

Supporters argue that this would reduce pressure on the country’s resources. Opponents say that the measure would be bad for the economy. The country voted in February to re-introduce immigration quotas, effectively opting out of a EU free movement agreement. The government still has to implement that referendum result, which threw relations with the EU into turmoil.

Two other referendums are also being held on Sunday: one on forcing the central bank to boost its gold reserves and one on scrapping a tax perk for expatriates. Under the country’s system of direct democracy, citizens can force a referendum if they muster enough signatures of support. Switzerland’s population has grown by over a million in 20 years, and is currently 8.2 million. Some 23% of its inhabitants are foreign nationals, most of them from EU states. Opinion polls suggest the vote will be close, with latest indications suggesting that the measure will not be voted through.

Christian Luescher, a parliamentarian for the Liberal Party and co-chairman of the committee opposing Ecopop, described the initiative as “absolutely absurd”. “It aims to drastically, linearly and arbitrarily reduce immigration to Switzerland, with absolutely no consideration for the needs of the economy,” he told AFP.

Source: European Media

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