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Swiss Voters Split on Curbing Immigration: Projection

A Woman Walks Past
A woman walks past two posters against, left, and in favor, right, of a "stop mass immigration" initiative which will be voted upon on Feb. 9. Photographer: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

Feb. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Swiss voters were divided on whether to approve an upper limit on immigration with the result still too close to call, according to an initial projection.

Voters were split, with 50.4 percent for the measure, which requires the government to set an upper limit for foreigners, a measure that could potentially thwart the ability of companies to hire top talent abroad, an SRF television projection showed as of 4 p.m. local time today. That’s within the 0.7 percent margin of error, SRF said. The results for the cantons of Bern and Zurich have yet to be announced.

“It’s going to be a nail biter,” Urs Schwaller, member of parliament for the Christian Democrats CVP, which recommended rejecting the initiative, told SRF.

For the measure to pass, it must have a majority among the country’s cantons as well as of the popular vote. According to Claude Longchamp, head of pollster gfs.bern, the immigration curb has achieved the requisite cantonal majority. The proposed limits were supported by voters in the Italian-speaking region of Ticino and in German speaking cantons, he said, adding that voters in western Switzerland, the French-speaking part of the country, opposed it.

The initiative “Against Mass Immigration” pitted companies small and large against the euro-skeptic Swiss People’s Party SVP. Corporations argued they need top talent from around the world to maintain their competitive edge, while critics, many of them members of the SVP, said the flood of newcomers is leading to worse working conditions, crowded trains and a housing shortage.

Immigration has supported Switzerland’s economic growth, and the EU bloc is the alpine country’s top export destination. Roughly a fifth of Switzerland’s 8 million inhabitants come from abroad.

To contact the reporter on this story: Catherine Bosley in Zurich at cbosley1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Craig Stirling at cstirling1@bloomberg.net

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