By Joshua Franklin
Swiss voters were forecast to reject a referendum proposal that foreign law-breakers be deported, according to initial projections from an exit poll by Swiss broadcaster SRF on Sunday.
A ‘yes’ vote could have further complicated Swiss relations with the European Union, Switzerland’s biggest trading partner, as it tries to reconcile a 2014 referendum backing quotas on EU workers with Brussels.
“The trend has clearly gone in the ‘no’ direction,” Claude Longchamp of the gfs.bern research and polling institute said of the vote on Swiss television. “We are definitely seeing less than 45 percent of the vote in favour.”
Of four referendums on Sunday, the immigration vote was the main issue.
The proposal from the anti-immigration Swiss People’s Party (SVP) would have subjected any foreign resident to automatic deportation if convicted of a crime from murder to speeding.
Under the SVP’s draft law, foreigners would have been automatically deported after completing their sentences for serious crimes like murder, rape and armed robbery, or for two lesser offences committed within a 10-year span such as speeding or burglary.
In the other referendums, voters were seen supporting the construction of a second tunnel through the Gotthard mountain range, a main north-south transit route.
Voters were also seen rejecting a proposal to ban trading in agricultural derivatives.
There was no clear trend in a vote on whether to abolish a tax disadvantage for married couples and civil partnerships, SRF said.