THE Swiss have said no to the so-called “Swexit” ending the free movement of people agreement with the European Union.
The public broadcaster SRF is reporting that approximately two-thirds of voters in Sunday’s referendum on the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP)’s proposal to limit the free movement of people and immigration from the EU have voted against.
Supporters of the proposal argue there is a risk of “uncontrolled and excessive immigration”, the agreement allowing for an average of 75,000 EU citizens to enter the country every year.
The SVP warned of overpopulation, too much pressure on the welfare system, overcrowded schools and public transport and in increase in the costs of housing.
The populist party, the biggest, in the Swiss parliament, would like to see Switzerland have unilateral control on immigration policy, an argument used by some pro-Brexit leading up to the UK’s referendum on EU membership.
However opponents to the plan maintain Switzerland needs skilled workers and should not do anything to threaten accords which give the country access to the EU single market or deprive Swiss citizens of the freedom to live and work in other European nations.
There are currently around 1.4 million EU citizens living in the country, which has a population of some 8.2 million. Somewhere in the regions of 500,000 Swiss live elsewhere in the EU.
The final result of the referendum is expected to be confirmed within the coming hours.
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