Switzerland voters uphold free movement agreement with EU

wiss voters upheld an accord with the EU that allows people to travel freely through Switzerland in a referendum on Sunday. While 62 percent voted in favor of keeping the accord, 38 percent voted to end it.

The referendum on the accord was proposed by the Swiss People’s Party (SVP). A conservative group, the SVP has frequently proposed and backed anti-immigration measures. The SVP and its supporters claimed that ending the accord would permit Switzerland to police its borders and determine who could and could not immigrate. They also insisted that immigration was straining public services and the environment.

Opponents to the proposal argued that it would result in an economic recession. The EU, to which all of Switzerland’s neighboring countries belong, is Switzerland’s primary trading partner. Voters also raised concerns over the status of hurt Swiss citizens living and working in EU countries. Further, opponents voiced concerns about how ending the accord would impact relations with the EU. A 2014 referendum introducing quotas, which narrowly passed, strained Swiss-EU relations. Additionally, given the fundamental nature of the free movement accord, voters worried about the status of other agreements with the EU, such as trade and research.

The SVP insisted that the EU would renegotiate the agreements if the proposal ending free movement passed. More evidence, such as the EU handling of Brexit, supported the opposite conclusion.