Swiss may vote again on restricting immigration

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Swiss may vote again on restricting immigration
Voting on the initiative took place in 2014. File photo: AFP/Michael Buholzer

A member of the Social Democrats has launched a surprise referendum bid against parliament-approved plans to implement curbs on immigration.


The Tages-Anzeiger reported that Nenad Stojanovic had launched a bid to force a referendum on implementation of the initiative adopted by the people in 2014 to curb immigration.

His announcement came in a tweet on Wednesday, in which he said that the people should again have the last word.

Stojanovic, who teaches political science at the University of Lucerne, said he was doing so as a private citizen and did not represent a grouping or the centre-left Social Democrats.

He said many politicians and others he had spoken to backed his move, which followed parliament’s decision not to implement the 2014 initiative to the letter.

In a direct democracy it was problematic when decisions taken by the people were not enshrined by law, he said.

To force a nationwide referendum 50,000 signatures must be gathered within 100 days.

This means a new vote on implementing the anti-immigration initiative could take place as early as May 2017.

Earlier this month parliament adopted a ‘light’ solution to the initiative restricting immigration.

The right-wing Swiss People's Party (SVP) denounced the plans, which it saw as too far removed from the original initiative text.

The party had spearheaded the 2014 referendum and was strongly in favour of imposing quotas on immigration from the European Union.

However, despite its protests the party has not announced its own referendum to challenge parliament’s decision.

The vote by the two houses of parliament confirmed that the country would not be imposing quotas on immigration from the EU as voted for by the public in the ‘against mass immigration' referendum in 2014.

Instead, MPs opted for a solution that will see unemployed domestic workers given preference over European Union nationals for jobs in Switzerland.

Implementing the 2014 initiative to the letter would have contravened free movement, something the EU was not willing to accept.



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