Majority of voters in Switzerland 'deciding against' drastic immigration cuts in referendum

Nearly three quarters of Swiss voters have voted against immigration cuts

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The Independent Online

Switzerland appears to be on track for rejecting controversial proposals to cut annual immigration into the country by three quarters after a vote was held today.

Partial voting data shows that about 74 per cent of the 26 electoral areas have voted "no" in the referendum in a nation where a quarter of people are classed as foreigners.

The plan has been defended as an environmental measure by Ecopop Association but also has been labelled as xenophobic and detrimental to the economy by critics.

The group are calling for a cap of around 16,000 people per year - compared to the recent number of around 80,000 - to be allowed to stay in the country that has a current population of around 8.14 million.


Ecopop believe that the annual growth rate of 1 per cent will lead to the population rising to more than 10 million people by 2025 and 13.8 million by 2050.

"We're not saying who should come, we just say [immigration] should be less," said Sabine Wirth, vice-president of Ecopop, to German channel Deutsche Welle.

The immigration-curbing proposal also includes plans to channel 10 per cent of Swiss development aid in funding family planning measures in developing countries.

Citizens can force a referendum if they gather enough signatures of support under Switzerland's system of direct democracy.

The country voted in February to re-introduce immigration quotas, in effect opting out of an EU free movement agreement.

Two other referendums were also being held today, with one on forcing the central bank to increase its gold reserves and one on getting rid of tax benefits for expatriates.

Partial results so far state that both other referendums have also failed to establish enough support from the electorate.