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Swiss government’s EU-friendly immigration plan likely to avoid referendum challenge

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Swiss government’s EU-friendly immigration plan likely to avoid referendum challenge
The Swiss parliament. Photo: Peter Schneider/Pool/AFP
10:25 CEST+02:00
A bid to launch a referendum to challenge the government’s implementation of the 2014 anti-immigration initiative is likely to fail, its supporters have said.
Last December Swiss political scientist Nenad Stojanovic launched a surprise bid for a referendum against parliament’s plans for implementing the 2014 anti-immigration popular initiative. 
 
Stojanovic said he felt Swiss citizens should have the final word on parliament’s controversial decision, reached in December, to introduce domestic preference in the Swiss job market rather than immigration controls.
 
This so-called ‘light’ solution amounted to a hugely watered down version of the text of the original initiative, approved by the public in a February 2014 referendum, which had called for limits to be placed on EU immigration.  
 
At the time Stojanovic said it was problematic in a direct democracy when the decisions taken by the public are not then enshrined in law. 
 
Four citizens’ committees joined Stojanovic in his bid to force a referendum on the subject. 
 
To do so they were required to gather 50,000 signatures by April 7th. 
 
However on Tuesday Stojanovic told the press the campaign was unlikely to gather that many signatures by the deadline.
 
Three weeks ago the committee had only gathered 12,000 of the required 50,000, reported broadcaster RTS
 
The bid is not supported by any major political party or movement, it added. 
 
However Stojanovic attributed the likely failure to lack of resources, telling RTS they didn’t have the money nor the personnel to gather 50,000 signatures within the timescale.
 
A recent survey showed that a slim majority of Swiss supported the government’s ‘light’ solution for implementing the 2014 anti-immigration initiative. 
 
Parliament made the controversial decision in order to preserve the country’s raft of bilateral agreements with the EU which would have been threatened by immigration quotas, a concept that goes against the principle of free movement of people.
 
But the move was heavily criticized in the press as anti-democratic and a “capitulation” to the EU.
 
Under Switzerland’s system of direct democracy, any citizen may launch a bid for an optional referendum to put a stop to a proposed new law. 
 
For the referendum to go ahead 50,000 signatures must be collected within 100 days.
 

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