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Swiss immigration politics
Swiss voters knock down a referendum proposal to deport foreigners who commit even minor crimes
THE right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP) has exploited popular fears over immigration to become the country’s largest party, winning nearly 30% of the vote in the general election last October. On Sunday, however, the SVP suffered a rare defeat. The party had introduced a referendum calling for mandatory expulsion of foreigners convicted of even minor offences. The so-called “enforcement initiative”, the most controversial of four proposals decided by referendum on Sunday, was turned down by 58.9% of those who voted. To rub salt in the SVP’s wound, voter turnout was 62%, the highest since Switzerland’s 1992 vote to stay out of the European Economic Area.
The outcome was an abrupt reversal of fortunes. Six years ago, an SVP referendum proposal calling for the automatic …