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Swiss right-wing SVP mulls new initiative to reduce immigration: papers

Christoph Bloche, president of the "No to slow EU accession" committee (L), gestures next to Albert Roesti, president of the Swiss People's Party (SVP) during a news conference in Bern, Switzerland, August 5, 2016. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

ZURICH - Switzerland’s biggest party, the right-wing People’s Party (SVP), is considering launching a new initiative to end the free movement of people with the European Union, its Vice President Christoph Blocher told Swiss newspapers NZZ and Tages-Anzeiger.

“If we see that the law to implement (a 2014 referendum to curb immigration) does not massively reduce immigration, the SVP will launch an initiative to end the free movement of people,” Blocher said in an interview with Tages-Anzeiger published on Saturday.

A parliamentary panel on Friday rejected the government’s threat to impose unilateral quotas on foreigners next year in favor of a compromise based on a hiring preference for local people.

Asked whether the SVP would resort to a referendum to overthrow the new law that still needs to pass both chambers of parliament, Blocher said: “A victory in a referendum is worthless. We’d be back at the starting point, the current situation would still be valid. That would not be worth the effort.”

He reiterated earlier statements saying, in a separate interview with NZZ, he did not expect the European Union to cancel bilateral agreements even if the Swiss decide to end free movement.