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Europe's Anti-Immigrant Parties Cheer a Swiss Vote

The referendum invigorates nationalist parties in Europe
A voter casts her ballot at a polling station in Ascona, Switzerland, on Feb. 9
A voter casts her ballot at a polling station in Ascona, Switzerland, on Feb. 9Photograph by Michael Buholzer/AFP via Getty Images

After Switzerland voted in a Feb. 9 referendum to impose quotas on foreigners, it didn’t take long for Europe’s anti-immigrant right to claim fresh momentum in its campaign to make big gains in European Union-wide elections.

Anti-immigration politicians, including Marine Le Pen of France and the Netherlands’ Geert Wilders, said that although Switzerland lies outside the EU, the vote will resonate inside it. “You can decide who comes into your apartment,” Le Pen said on Europe 1 radio on Feb. 10. “The country is our house. We the people have the right to decide who comes in.” Right-wing parties—who are also anti-euro and anti-EU—are looking to parlay the recent euro crisis and rampant unemployment into a breakthrough in elections for the European Parliament in May.