The federal parliament building in Bern. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Toni Brunner, current MP and former president of the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP), was speaking in an interview with tabloid Blick about the SVP's anti-mass immigration initiative that was passed by the Swiss public exactly three years ago.
With immigration “still too high”, Brunner said he was irritated by the fact that foreigners, particularly Germans, were enticed from abroad to work with federal bodies.
He is preparing a bill to ban such recruitment and wants “to encourage cantonal parliaments and municipal councils to do the same,” he added.
“There are enough Swiss and foreigners already here to accomplish all the work.
“The same goes for teachers. There are already enough foreigners teaching our children,” he said, adding that the state “should set an example at all levels” by bringing in national preference.
Brunner also expressed his dissatisfaction with the government’s approach to implementing the anti-mass immigration initiative, which was narrowly accepted by the Swiss public on February 9th 2014.
Instead of establishing immigration quotas, as the initiative intended, parliament voted for a ‘light’ solution providing for minor changes to the job market, in order to preserve the country’s relationship with the EU.
“The problem is in no way solved,” Brunner told Blick. “Today immigration is still much higher than in the past”.
The government’s ‘light’ solution does promote a form of national preference, but only in job sectors and regions affected by above average unemployment.
Recruiters in those areas are required to advertise vacant jobs at relevant regional job centres and interview Swiss candidates put forward by the centre.
However they are not required to justify why they reject a Swiss candidate in favour of a foreign one.
Parliament's controversial decision to water down the original initiative was seen as undemocratic by some, meaning the saga is likely to continue to run for months or years.
Some campaigners are seeking a further referendum which could see the government's solution overthrown.
Another initiative called RASA seeks to overturn the original 2014 referendum in favour of EU-Swiss bilateral relations, an idea the government has countered.
And a third, spearheaded by the Association for an Independent and Neutral Switzerland (AUNS), calls for the total abandonment of free movement between the EU and Switzerland.
There are currently over two million foreigners living in Switzerland, a landmark figure reached in 2015 for the first time.