Politically incorrect Swiss vote to limit immigration
The European Union is fuming and contemplating retaliation against the nation of Switzerland in the wake of majority vote by Swiss citizens limiting immigration, one of political correctness's core sacraments. Switzerland uses direct referenda to decide issues that in other countries are left to legislative bodies, and so yesterday the entire nation voted on a proposal to drastically limit immigration from EU countries, and by a narrow majority (50.3%), the measure passed.
Jonathan Fowler of AFP writes:
The European Union warned it will review ties with Switzerland after the non-member Alpine country voted Sunday to restrict EU immigration in a closely-fought referendum.
Final results of the plebiscite showed 50.3 percent of voters backed the "Stop Mass Immigration" plan pushed by Swiss right-wing populists.
The fall-out from the result could sink a raft of deals with the EU, including on the economic front.
Switzerland is ringed by EU member countries and does the bulk of its trade with the 28-nation bloc, but has remained steadfast about not becoming a member.
The European Commission said it would assess EU ties with Switzerland, raising the prospect of restricted trade or other retaliatory steps.
"The EU will examine the implications of this initiative on EU-Swiss relations as a whole," it said a statement.
If it so chooses, the EU could impose serious harm on Switzerland, for example excluding it from the Schengen travel zone that has allowed people to move across borders in Europe the same way Americans move across state borders. Should customs and immigration barriers be set up at Swiss borders, and for passengers (for example) connecting planes at Zurich Airport, the economic consequences would be severe. And Swiss financial institutions, major players in European finance, could face hindrances in operating in London and other finance centers.
Unsurprisingly, the big cities voted against the measure while rural areas voted in favor of it. French speaking areas voted against it, German-speaking rural areas voted narrowly in favor, while the Italian-speaking Ticino area voted strongly in favor.
I long ago spent a summer in Switzerland and was impressed by the degree of direct democracy and the strength of local ties. At that time, I heard a story from a foreigner who had married a Swiss woman and wanted citizenship to be able to live together in her rural home town. That town actually had a referendum vote on whether or not to accept him for citizenship (he made it).
Every Swiss male undergoes military service, and is required as an adult to keep an automatic weapon in his house. The military training serves an important socialization function, bringing together the four language groups (Romansch is the fourth after German, French, and Italian) and Protestants and Catholics. Ties formed during military service can be very important in life's later years, especially among the elite who serve as officers.
Bering host to a million foreigners in a population of 8 million might well seem dangerous to a nation schooled in the demanding disciplines of being Swiss. The Swiss are a no-nonsense people, and do not cotton to less successful foreigners (nearly everyone in the world) telling them what to do. They have gone their own way for centuries, and have armed themselves to the teeth in order to defend their independence.
So I am not surprised at their willingness to flout PC views on immigration. But the urban and multinational side of the country, which brings in the most money sustaining the very high standard of living, may pay the price. This story is not yet over. Keep your eyes on Switzerland.
The British certainly are:
The leader of Britain's main eurosceptic party hailed "wise" Swiss voters Sunday for backing curbs on EU immigration, saying it would encourage others across the continent.
Nigel Farage, the head of the UK Independence Party, said Switzerland had stood up to "bullying" from Brussels and that it was "not a matter of race but of space."
"This is wonderful news for national sovereignty and freedom lovers throughout Europe," said Farage, who is a member of the European parliament (MEP).
"A wise and strong Switzerland has stood up to the bullying and threats of the unelected bureaucrats of Brussels."