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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Swiss Vote to Restrict Immigration: Direct Democracy in Action

On February 9, 2014, the Swiss voted in a non-binding referendum by a narrow margin (50.3%) in favor of immigration quotas and an end to “mass immigration.”[1] This result took the government by surprise; officials had been urging the people to vote no. So too had the Swiss bankers—only coincidentally of course. Just enough voters rebuffed the establishment of power and wealth for the referendum to pass. Johann Schneider-Ammane, the Swiss Economy Minister, suggested that a “culture of excess” in the pursuit of profit sometimes at the expense of the common good had discredited the political and business elite in the eyes of ordinary people.