It was a deeply divisive issue but in the end Swiss voters backed giving Romanian and Bulgarians the right to work in their country by a big majority.
Some 60 percent approved the measure, which renews an existing agreement allowing EU migrant workers into Switzerland and extends it to new members Romania and Bulgaria.
The outcome’s been welcomed by Brussels and Berne.
“I’m very proud be Swiss tonight because I think the Swiss…no I’m sure the Swiss are the only European country to support the expansion of the EU, even though we’re not part of it. It shows Swiss citizens are sensitive to rational arguments aren’t inclined to give in to fear.”
That was a reference to the xenophobia the government said the populist Swiss People’s Party was peddling with posters like this in its campaign for a ‘no’ vote in the referendum. They had claimed it would lead to job losses for Swiss citizens.
The result is being celebrated by Romanians and Bulgarians already in the country.
“It’s a great relief, it’s really the Switzerland we love and the one I respect. We’re celebrating this great victory, this “Yes” that’s Switzerland is saying to Romania and Bulgaria and mostly, the “yes’ it’s saying to Europe.”
The country’s employers groups and unions had all expressed support for the deal.