– Did the vote display a widening gap between French Swiss and German Swiss?

This is usually said in relation to the fact that all French Cantons voted against the initiative, while the vast majority of the German Cantons voted for it. To some degree it would seem that there exists a divide between these regions, however it is important to bear in mind that even the French Cantons saw strong support for the initiative ranging from 38.9% to 48.5% in favor.

– Is the initiative a product of xenophobia?
Oxford Definition: intense or irrational dislike or fear of people from other countries

Even though this is the definition of the word “xenophopbia”, the “dislike or fear of people from other countries” is not always “irrational”, and so therefore not always xenophobic.

To understand why so-called xenophobia might occur in any part of the world one has to understand the basic human instincts of acceptance, and the protection of those acceptances.

Nations are extensions of the home of the people who make up that nation. A nation is formed when a group of individual people find enough commonalities with one another that they outweigh the differences. The people form communities, which form towns, which form regions, which form states, and the unity of states is what we today call Switzerland. The nation cannot be separated from itself – the individuals who are it’s very makeup.

People who come from other nations have their own set of commonalities with the people of their own nation. Sometimes those commonalities jive with many, or even most, of the commonalities of the foreign country they are in, and other times those commonalities vary completely. Additionally, most people living in a foreign land will show a lot more care towards their own nation than they would towards the foreign land they are in.

In short, xenophobia may be a harsh label in some cases for what amounts to little more than a nation, a people, with a culture, heritage and social norms, trying to protect the commonalities which is the glue that gave the nation it’s cohesion to begin with. So in light of the definition of the word, and in light of the rational concerns shared by the majority of the Swiss electorate, this initiative is not a product of xenophobia.

– Is the initiative a product of racism?
Oxford Definition: prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior

The initiative has nothing whatsoever to do with race and as there is no such thing as a “Swiss race” it would seem completely illogical to equate any democratic decision by the Swiss electorate as being “racist” since racism is “based on the belief that one’s own race is superior”.

– Is the initiative a product of descrimination?
Oxford Definition: the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex

The ability to discriminate is not automatically a negative thing, as the secondary definition of the word shows: “recognition and understanding of the difference between one thing and another“.

In regards to the primary definition, no, the initiative is not the product of discrimination since the electorate are the ultimate decider’s on whether anything put forward to them to vote on is “unjust” or not. The vote shows that the majority of the Swiss electorate views the initiative as “justified”, therefore by extension it is not discrimination in the primary definition.

In regards to the secondary definition, yes, the initiative does rely on differences – such as the difference between Swiss in Switzerland and foreigners in Switzerland, with the result being that Swiss in Switzerland are to be given priority to employment opportunities over foreigners. This is simply in recognizing the difference of rights, in that Swiss in Switzerland have more rights to the resources of their land, than foreigners have.

– Does the initiative break the Free Movement of Persons agreement with the EU?

The short answer is no.

Article 18 of the agreement makes provision for either party of the agreement to call for renegotiation of the agreement. The initiative calls for precisely that – the renegotiation.

– Is the Free Movement of Persons agreement still in effect?

Yes it is. Until quotas are written into law the only real difference is that Switzerland cannot sign any agreements which contravene the initiative’s addition to the Swiss Constitution.

– Will care services and/or businesses in Switzerland suffer from a lack of personnel due to the initiative?

Highly unlikely. All current work permits issued are still valid. Until quotas are actually put into law there is effectively no change to the way that care services and/or businesses have been able to acquire personnel under the FMOP agreement.

The only foreseeable factor which may cause this from occurring is if the quotas written into law are too limiting, however this  to is highly unlikely since the Swiss Federal Government will be working closely with the business community to address the demand for foreign labour, but this time with the Constitutional mandate that the unemployed Swiss must not be ignored.

– Will the EU do anything to damage the Swiss economy in retaliation to the initiative?

In short, most likely not.

1. Both the EU and Switzerland benefit greatly from cooperation. It would be in nobody’s interest to take any action which would have damaging effects on the Swiss economy. Any action taken by the EU to damage the Swiss economy would have negative repercussions across the EU economy – something the EU economy does not need.

2. There is no legal, or moral justification for economic retaliation, or retaliation of any sort, against the Swiss economy and/or Switzerland. Additionally with growing anti-EU sentiment across Europe, and with EU Parliament elections coming up in late May this year (2014), EU leaders will be looking to stay away from anything which could worsen their standing with the electorates of their nations.

3. Switzerland would not take kindly to any actions by the EU which threaten and/or damage the economic stability of the nation and could take counter-measures against the EU to let them know this. One of several such measures could be the taxation of all EU goods which make use of Switzerland’s excellent road and rail networks – effectively making Switzerland a giant crossroad junction in the middle of Europe’s largest trading partners, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and Austria. This alone could have dire consequences on the EU economy, and the EU government is surely well aware of this.


More FAQ’s from the Federal Department of Justice and Police: