Switzerland's far-right SVP has launched a new initiative calling for the deportation of foreign criminals at the same time as a pre-election projection suggests the party will retain power later this month.

"/> Switzerland's far-right SVP has launched a new initiative calling for the deportation of foreign criminals at the same time as a pre-election projection suggests the party will retain power later this month.

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POLITICS

SVP launches new foreign criminals plan

Switzerland's far-right SVP has launched a new initiative calling for the deportation of foreign criminals at the same time as a pre-election projection suggests the party will retain power later this month.

SVP launches new foreign criminals plan
Metro Centric (file)

The ultra-conservative party, Switzerland’s largest, added fresh impetus to its election campaign this weekend by bringing up its favourite topic: immigration.

At a conference in Aargau on Saturday, party leaders said the objective of the second deportation initiative is to force the Federal Council to put into practice a constitutional amendment that was previously supported by a majority of Swiss in a November 28th 2010 referendum.

But Social Democratic Party justice minister, Simonetta Sommaruga, and the study group she commissioned, rejected the inclusion of “automatic deportation” for criminal foreigners when they passed the initiative into law.

The new text proposed by the SVP initiative will be clearer and more direct, making it impossible for the consequences to be disputed once written into the constitution.

In an interview with newspaper Le Temps, SVP leader Christoph Blocher said his party is the only one that “addresses the real problems” of Switzerland. In his view, the most important issues are immigration and the free movement of people.

So far, the hardline approach the party has taken in recent years on hot-button topics such as foreigners’ rights and anything related to the European Union, has borne fruit.

In a first simulation of the likely make-up of parliament after the elections, newspaper NZZ am Sonntag showed the SVP keeping its current 62 seats in Bern, while the Socialist Party will gain two seats, rising to 45. The projection, based on research by political scientist Michael Hermann, also indicated that the Greens will lose two members, but the liberal FPD will suffer the worst blow – its representation dropping by a quarter (down to 27 from 35 seats).

Hermann’s calculations are not based solely on opinion polls, but also on previous cantonal election results and party alliances in the regions.

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POLITICS

Ukraine and allies lay foundations for reconstruction at Swiss conference

Allies of Ukraine meeting in Switzerland were due Tuesday to adopt a declaration spelling out the principles and priorities of rebuilding the war-shattered country, estimated to cost at least $750 billion.

Ukraine and allies lay foundations for reconstruction at Swiss conference

Leaders from dozens of countries, international organisations and businesses have been meeting in the southern Swiss city of Lugano under tight security since Monday, discussing the best path forward for reconstruction, even as Russia’s war continues to rage in Ukraine.

‘A beautiful country’: How Ukrainian refugees see Switzerland

Speaking on the first day of the Ukraine Recovery Conference, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and a long line of government ministers described the massive destruction caused by Russia’s February 24 invasion.

“Reconstruction of Ukraine is not a local task of a single nation,” Zelensky said via video message. “It is a common task of the whole democratic world,” he said.

Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said the recovery “is already estimated at $750 billion”. “The key source of recovery should be the confiscated assets of Russia and Russian oligarchs,” he said.

“The Russian authorities unleashed this bloody war. They caused this massive destruction, and they should be held accountable for it”.

READ MORE: Switzerland extends sanctions against Russia over Ukraine invasion

The conference, which had been planned before the invasion, had originally been slated to discuss reforms in Ukraine before being repurposed to focus on recovery.

Shmyhal laid out the government’s phased reconstruction plan, focused first on the immediate needs of those affected by the war, followed by the financing of thousands of longer-term reconstruction projects aimed at making Ukraine European, green and digital.

Those priorities are expected to be reflected in a final Lugano Declaration setting out the general principles defining a framework for rebuilding Ukraine, which should be adopted when the conference wraps up around midday Tuesday.

As billions of dollars in aid flow into Ukraine, lingering concerns about widespread corruption in the country mean far-reaching reforms will also be seen as a condition for any recovery plan decided.

The former Soviet state has long been ranked among the world’s most corrupt countries by Transparency International.

In Europe, only Russia and Azerbaijan ranked worse.

The Ukrainians have proposed that allied countries “adopt” specific regions of Ukraine, and lead the recovery there to render it more efficient. Britain has proposed taking on the Kyiv region, while a diplomatic source said France would concentrate on the heavily-hit Chernihiv region.

Total Resistance: The Swiss Cold War manual inspiring Ukraine’s fight against Russia

In all, around 1,000 people are attending the conference, including European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who let out an enthusiastic “Slava Ukraini” (glory to Ukraine) after insisting on the importance of rebuilding a Ukraine better than before the war.

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