Swiss vote on limiting jobs, residency for European Union citizens

Swiss vote on limiting jobs, residency for European Union citizens”

Voter Yann Grote said he didn't approve of further limiting freedom of movement.

A picture taken on September 1, 2020 in Lausanne shows backlit electoral posters that translates from French as "Too much is too much!"

If the freedom-of-movement proposal by the populist Swiss People's Party were to pass, it would give preferential access to jobs, social protection and benefits to Swiss citizens over those from the 27 countries of the European Union, of which Switzerland is not a member.

Final results showed that 61.7 percent of Swiss voters had balked at an initiative to tear up an agreement permitting the free movement of people between Switzerland and the surrounding EU.

The EU referendum is being pushed by the right-wing populist People's Party (SVP), Switzerland's largest party.

Switzerland's People's Party (SVP), who put the immigration initiative on the ballot, argues that Switzerland can not support the number of immigrants it now has. SVP lawmaker Celine Amaudruz said it was the mention of the guillotine clause that scared people away from the initiative.

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Citizens of the EU plus Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein, which with Switzerland are members of the European Free Trade Association, made up 68 per cent of the 2.1 million resident foreigners in 2019.

A landmark vote in 1992 ended in a victory for the conservatives who rejected membership of the European Economic Area - a half-way house towards joining the EU. A similar SVP initiative that narrowly passed in 2014 threw Swiss-EU relations into disarray, and it has taken years to mend the damage.

Politicians refused to fully implement the referendum fearing a hefty impact on Swiss society and businesses, prompting the People's Party to get the issue back on the ballot again this year. A September 7 survey by gfs.bern polling agency found that more than 60% of respondents were against it, some 35% backed it and the rest were undecided.

Turnout in Sunday's referendum was nearly 60%, with around 5.3 million people eligible to vote.

Several other issues were being put to vote on Sunday, including introducing two weeks' paternity leave, the acquisition of fighter jets and easing restrictions on shooting wolves. "They will be entitled to receive 80 percent of their salary at a daily cap of 196 Swiss francs, or about $210, though companies can choose to extend the duration of the leave or increase the percentage of salary paid out". Adrian Wuthrich, head of the trade union federation Travailsuisse and a supporter of the paternity leave push, hailed Sunday's result. This time, a more lively vote than usual was expected in the country.

The freedom-of-movement measure was being considered alongside nationwide votes on paternity leave, tax breaks for childcare, purchases of new fighter planes worth billions of pounds, and the right to hunt wolves to keep their population down.

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