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Immigration trumps economy in Swiss vote

Friday, October 16, 2015 - 01:30

The anti-immigration Swiss People's Party is set to cement its position as the country's dominant political force in elections where migration has trumped the economy as the key issue for voters. David Pollard reports.

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Switzerland doesn't share the same currency as its euro zone neighbours. But it does have many of the same worries. Economic pressures on the one hand. A heated debate over migration on the other. Both likely to tip the scales in this weekend's parliamentary elections. Political analyst Pascal Sciarini. (SOUNDBITE) (English) POLITICAL ANALYST, PASCAL SCIARINI, SAYING: "The Liberals are likely to gain because of the fears in terms of economy, and the Swiss People's Party is likely to gain some votes and seats as a result of migration and asylum issues." The recent strength of the Swiss franc has made the economy less competitive. That feeding into an anxiety over adding more to an 8-million strong population where one in four are from outside the country. People's Party MP Jean-Francois Rime. (SOUNDBITE) (French) SWISS PEOPLE'S PARTY (SVP) MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT, JEAN-FRANCOIS RIME, SAYING: "Today, in Switzerland, between 80,000 and 100,000 new inhabitants arrive each year ... There was a referendum last year which asked for better control over immigration - it must be put into force." Not everybody agrees. (SOUNDBITE) (French) SWISS MAN, GERALD, SAYING: "We have always needed the foreigners who have come here, in agriculture, or for jobs with lower pay ... I don't see why we should stop taking them in." Consensus politics is everything in Switzerland a country with one of the highest living standards in the world. The gains the People's Party expected to make, unlikely to reshape the government. Though it may well find itself under more pressure to take a harder line on immigration. That likely to cause ripples not just in Bern, but in Brussels too.

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Immigration trumps economy in Swiss vote

Friday, October 16, 2015 - 01:30