Switzerland looks set to make it easier to throw out foreigners convicted of committing crimes.
A referendum is being held on Sunday.
Calling for the expulsion of what it terms “the black sheep”, the right-wing populist Swiss People’s Party or SVP has support in opinion polls.
“This referendum in necessary because the crimes of foreign residents are becoming more violent and we do not want these black sheep,” said the former head of the SVP, Ueli Maurer. “They should be expelled.”
Last year the Swiss backed a ban on the construction of new minarets, drawing international condemnation. Opponents of the latest initiative lament another sign of growing hostility to immigration in the Alpine state.
“I think it is extremely defaming… to put a quarter of our population under the general suspicion of being a criminal,” said Marlies Baenziger of the Green Party. “This is extremely unfair.”
A “yes” vote would see the automatic expulsion of foreigners convicted of serious crimes like murder and drug trafficking. But “abuse of social aid” is also included, raising the possibility that a cleaner working on the black market could end up with a one-way ticket just like a rapist.