The Swiss electorate has voted overwhelmingly in favor of a change to the asylum laws which are designed to slow down a Third World tsunami of bogus claimants pouring into that country.
A full 78.4 percent of voters embraced changes made to the asylum law last September as applications soared to their highest level in over a decade.
Celine Amandruz of the populist Swiss People’s Party (SVP), welcomed the strong support for the tougher law, insisting that nine out of 10 people who seek refuge in the wealthy country did so “for economic reasons,”
“There was clearly a need to change this system,” she said.
The liberals who initiated the referendum in an attempt to overturn the law, described the outcome of the referendum as a “disaster.”
“The result is a disaster for refugees and asylum seekers,” the coalition’s statement said.
The non-governmental Refugee Council says Sunday’s result is the logical consequence of “years of a hate campaign by the political right.”
Even the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has expressed concern about what media called the “negative tone in the debate ahead of the vote.”
Manon Schick, the head of Amnesty International’s Switzerland section, also lamented the “very, very high” percentage of Swiss who had voted in favor of the revision.
“We knew in advance that we would lose,” she told AFP, pointing out that the Swiss have repeatedly voted to tighten their asylum law since it went into effect in 1981, “but that it was this bad was very disappointing.”
In a separate vote on the same day, Swiss voters rejected a Swiss People’s Party’s proposal to have the country’s cabinet directly elected rather than voted in by the parliament.
Supporters had campaigned for more transparency in the election procedure, arguing it would boost direct democracy. Opponents warned of destabilizing the tried and tested Swiss system.