Switzerland goes to the polls – about having lots more polls

Berlin

Swiss referendums have banned the building of new minarets, legitimised the expulsion of criminal foreigners and given the go-ahead for "sex box" prostitution – but now the Alpine republic is set to hold a nationwide vote on whether to get the public even more involved in direct democracy.

A nationalist group has joined forces with the right-wing Swiss People's Party (SVP) and collected the 50,000 signatures necessary for a referendum this Sunday which will decide whether voters should be given an automatic say every time the government signs an important international treaty.

The initiative, which is seen by many as a right-wing attempt to curb the European Union's influence, has been launched by the nationalist Action for an Independent and Neutral Switzerland. The group complains that the government makes unwarranted concessions to the EU.

"The Swiss government signs hundreds of international agreements each year without ever consulting the public directly," they declared. "The Swiss people should be able to make its voice heard more often and more easily."

Most major parties are against the proposal. They fear it will bring chaos and constant balloting.

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