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The regular round of Swiss referenda on Sunday included a Right Wing initiative to end the freedom of movement – this was rejected. 

Under Swiss direct democracy Switzerland’s voters are used to regular referenda at the national, cantonal and local level on all manner of issues. This time around the 61.7% voted against ending freedom of movement. However this is not Brexit: the outcome was based on practicality and there remains huge controversy over the political issue of the proposed framework agreement with the EU, which is seen by some as the final peg in “EU membership by the back door”. Such membership in several forms has been rejected in previous referenda and even the current initiative on free movement was rejected by several major cantons, following a traditional difference of opinion between the large cities which thrive on foreign workers and the more rural areas.

More details on the vote here.

The famous Swiss Finish: how does Switzerland manage its immigration and workforce under free movement.

At the same time as the above vote, the canton of Geneva (with 11.8% unemployment) has voted for a minimum wage of 23 CHF/Hour. Several other cantons already have minimum wages as do many unionised collective wage agreements. Far more than concerns with unemployment, the Swiss are generally anxious to ensure they meet their requirement for skilled employment without hurting the economy through wage deflation: Switzerland is one of the most efficient labour markets, but also one of the most highly priced in the EU/EFTA area. To this end the Swiss government controls under which circumstances foreigners can come and work under its Federal Act on Foreign Nationals and Integration FNIA.

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