Monday, 10 February 2014

A Land of Money and Fear: The Swiss Vote Against 'Mass Migration'

SPIEGEL ONLINE INTERNATIONAL: Switzerland's economic success is enviable, yet its people fear decline. On Sunday, voters approved a plan to reintroduce immigration quotas. The move is likely to create significant problems for the country's relations with the EU -- and could be expensive.

When a country is doing well, you can usually see it. Take Zurich, Switzerland, for example. The city has changed so much in just a few years that parts of it are almost unrecognizable. Entire new districts have sprung up with chic apartments. Office towers have shot up. Shops, restaurants and bars are full, despite the fact that a beer can be a bit steep at a price of six francs, or five euros. The people have money.

Experts are united in their opinion that this prosperity is the product of Switzerland's networked economy. The country has profited enormously from open borders and from an influx of qualified foreign workers. Indeed, the European Union is its largest trading partner. Despite this, a razor-thin majority of Swiss voted in favor on Sunday of an initiative to reintroduce restrictions to the number of foreigners allowed to live and work in the country. Some 50.3 percent of eligible Swiss voters cast ballots in favor of the initiative introduced by the right-leaning, nationalist Swiss People's Party -- rejecting immigration policies of recent years that have been highly successful. » | A Commentary by David Nauer | Monday, February 10, 2014