On Tuesday, the Swiss largest party, the far-right Swiss People’s Party, filed a petition backing a cap on the number of immigrants allowed to live in Switzerland. This is because more than a fifth of the population is of a foreign origin.
According to Toni Brunner, the Party’s leader, he wanted to “spark a debate on immigration” as he filed the request to the federal chancellery, ending a months-long battle to pull together the mandatory 100,000 signatures.
If the authorities consider the positions of the popular initiative legitimate, it then goes to a popular referendum, as per Switzerland’s unique system of direct democracy.
The change is intended to reduce the yearly amount of immigrants allowed residency as well as to properly screen applicants. The party’s proposals also suggested that immigrants and natives should not be given the same priority on the job market. This means that foreigners should only be hired where there is no native to fill the vacancy.
In addition, the Populist Party of Brunner explained during the seven-month campaign that immigration quotas would be set in order to match it with Switzerland’s economic requirements.
The country’s federation of employers and industries acted quickly in response to the prospect of a referendum by cautioning that the proposed law would threaten Switzerland’s economic success.
According to figures from the Swiss People’s Party, the petition collected a total of 136,195 signatures. The vast majority of the signatories come from the German-speaking counties where Switzerland’s far-right has almost a monopoly.
As at August 2011, about 22.3% of the country’s population of 7.9 million was made up of immigrants.
Source: The Local
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