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Swiss conservatives split by immigration campaign

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Swiss conservatives split by immigration campaign
17:58 CEST+02:00

An anti-immigration poster campaign has caused a split in the conservative SVP party, with three senior politicians distancing themselves from the posters.

The “Masseneinwanderung stoppen“ initiative, calling for members of the public to sign a petition supporting a halt to mass immigration, was launched by the party just before Swiss National Day on August 1st.

 Petition flyers were posted in letterboxes and posters showing black feet marching on the red and white Swiss flag are prominently displayed in railway stations with the slogan: “Stop mass immigration“ (Masseneinwanderung stoppen).

The collection of signatures in support of the campaign has begun, with an 18-month deadline to collect 100,000 names needed to spark a nationwide referendum on the issue.

The main reason for the supposed loss of control over immigration, according to the SVP flyer, is the “uncontrolled influx from the EU, our open borders and displaced asylum seekers.“

“With the popular initative against mass immigration, we can again decide who comes into our country. That is also beneficial to business," it states on the flyer.

But three SVP politicians, who represent the party's business-friendly wing, strongly disagree.

National Council member Peter Spuhler told SonntagsBlick he won’t sign the petition and called on others to follow suit. Alex Kuprecht, a member of the upper house of parliament fears the move would lead to the termination of the bilateral treaty with the EU. Spuhler said leaving the Schengen open-border area would be "a catastrophe".

The Schengen treaty came into effect in Switzerland in 2008 putting an end to automatic passport control for people travelling between Switzerland and other member states.

Instead of the current freedom of movement laws, the SVP is calling for the reinstatement of quotas and restrictions for foreigners, giving Swiss people priority on the job market.

According to the SVP, the consequences of uncontrolled migration are: overfilled streets and trains, exploding rents and land prices, salaries under pressure, missuse of asylum and an increase in foreign criminality.

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