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January 1997, Volume 4, Number 1

Swiss Referendum on Asylum

On December 1, 1996 the Swiss voted 54 percent to 46 percent against a measure that would prevented persons without documents from applying for asylum and given the government control over any wages earned by asylum-seekers. The Swiss People's Party drew up the immigration initiative in 1991, when Switzerland had a record 42,000 asylum-seekers. There were 17,000 applications for asylum in 1995.

The Swiss government opposed the measure, arguing that it had already reduced the number of asylum applications. The initiative received its strongest support in German-speaking cantons.

Over 67 percent of Swiss voters rejected a change in labor laws which would have opened the way for more overtime working and lifted a ban on Swiss women working night shifts.

"Swiss Voters Reject Anti-Immigration Move," The Record, December 2, 1996. William Hall, "Business hits at results of Swiss poll on labour," Financial Times December 3, 1996.