Across Europe, xenophobia is becoming a vote winner


On Sunday, Switzerland is voting on whether to cap the number of immigrants to just 0.2% of its total population of 8 million, which would restrict the number of people coming in to about 16,000 people a year. Whether it succeeds or fails, this latest plebiscite—named after the 40-year-old Ecopop movement that seeks to link protecting the environment with slowing population growth—is just latest Swiss effort to keep the outside world at bay.

In February, the far-right Swiss People’s Party mustered enough signatures to get a national referendum on introducing immigration quotas—and won by a slim margin, throwing relations with the European Union into flux. Switzerland, famously neutral, is not a member of the EU but has several agreements allowing citizens from the 28 EU nations to live and work in Switzerland and vice versa, as well as travel passport-free.

The referendum result violated those agreements, and the government has no idea what…

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