Voting has begun in Switzerland in a controversial referendum to limit the number of immigrants.
The proposal from right-wing Swiss People’s Party, calls on the country to abandon its EU commitments to the free movement of people.
Opinion polls have shown a shift in favour of limiting the number of immigrants putting the country on a collision course with the EU.
The two sides set out their arguments. Christoph Blocher from the Committee of the proposal against mass immigration said:
“Recruit them when needed and do not recruit when we do not need them, it is as easy as that. The economy says what is needed and the federation then tells them in which sectors people should immigrate for.”
In the No camp, Christophe Darbellay, President of the Christian Democratic People’s Party states:
“A third of the labour in Switzerland works for the European market. If we jeopardize the access to this European market and if we jeopardize the access to qualified workers from Europe we do have a massive problem.”
The issue has become a flashpoint with net immigration on the rise. In 2013 800,000 immigrants entered Switzerland which has a population of eight million.
A Yes vote would send a signal to Brussels that one of its signature policies is no longer wanted, a No vote would mean potentially more EU workers.
The polls close midday Sunday with a result expected in the afternoon.