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

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

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Swiss conservatives split by immigration campaign

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

Swiss conservatives split by immigration campaign

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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TRAVEL

What do Switzerland’s foreigners miss most during the pandemic?

New survey reveals which activities members of the international community are looking forward to most when life in Switzerland gets back to normal.

What do Switzerland’s foreigners miss most during the pandemic?
Expats miss travel most of all. Photo by NA FASSBENDER / AFP

Many people experience the so-called “pandemic blues” and foreigners in Switzerland are no different.

In fact, their feelings are often exacerbated by the isolation from their home countries. This is evident from a new survey, carried out by Glocals expat group. 

“On our social network, we perceived a feeling of frustration”, in particular concerning inability to see families, said Nir Ofek, one of the managers of Glocals.

“In this, their needs undoubtedly differ from those of the local population”.

Not surprisingly, the desire to resume travelling is the number one wish of 69 percent of respondents.

“Travel is not only linked to family contacts, but it also symbolises freedom”, Ofek said.

And there is also likely to be a rush on restaurants and bars, the survey found.

Some 43 percent of those surveyed said they will eat out the first week restaurants reopen, while 35 percent plan to do so in the first month.

Of those, 68 percent believe they will be safe there, even indoors, if social distances are maintained.

Overall, foreign respondents are not too optimistic that the pandemic will develop favourably. Sixty-three percent believe that new shutdowns will happen in the future. And 60 percent doubt that Switzerland will be able to vaccinate the majority of the adult population by the end of the summer.

Their outlook on the Swiss management of the pandemic is mixed. Only quarter of those polled rate it positively, a fifth find it poor, while more than half (52 percent) answer “so-so”.

Respondents also shared some of their experiences of living in Switzerland during the pandemic.

On a personal level, vast majority (86 percent) said they have missed social contact, experienced stress (66 percent) and decline in mental (61 percent) or physical (43 percent) health.

A fifth faced concerns about professional stability.

One person said that after she lost her job, “my residence permit expired and I had to leave Switzerland where I had lived for seven years and which had become my home.”

READ MORE: How do the Swiss really feel about foreigners?

What do you miss most about normal life – and what are you looking forward to the most when things return to normal. Get in touch at [email protected]

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