ZURICH Feb 9 Switzerland is split on
reintroducing immigration quotas, early projections showed on
Sunday, as the country broods over a proposal which opponents
say could irk multinationals and call into question its accords
with the European Union.
The home of Roche, Novartis, UBS
and other industry giants which rely on foreign
labour, voted 50 percent in favour and 50 percent against
capping immigration, according to the latest projections by
Swiss television station SRF.
Ten out of 26 Swiss cantons and half cantons had voted in
favour of the so-called initiate "stop mass immigration",
In order to win the vote, the initiative, spearheaded by the
right-wing Swiss People's Party (SVP), must garner a majority of
the overall vote, as well as majorities in more than 13 cantons.
A vote in favour, which comes 12 years after a free movement
of people agreement with the EU came into force, could hurt the
Swiss economy dependent on foreign professionals by increasing
red tape and jeopardising bilateral accords with the bloc.
The split is unusual, given the Swiss have a history of
voting against proposals they feel could hurt the country's
economic success story or threaten competitiveness.
It reflects growing concern among the Swiss population that
immigrants are eroding away the nation's Alpine culture and
contributing to rising rents, crowded transport and more crime.
(Reporting by Alice Baghdjian, Albert Schmieder and Caroline