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Swiss reject deportation of foreign criminals in referendum

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By Euronews
Swiss reject deportation of foreign criminals in referendum

Swiss voters have rejected a right-wing proposal to deport foreign law-breakers in a referendum.

The end tally showed 58.9 percent coming out against automatic deportations.

It hands a defeat to the country’s dominant anti-immigration Swiss People’s Party (SVP).

Turnout was more than 62 percent, the highest for a referendum in Switzerland since 1992, according to a research and polling institute.

“Today was an important day, which affirmed Switzerland’s rule of law. We did not enhance the rule of law in Switzerland, but the voters today did defend the rule of law,” said Simonetta Sommaruga, Member of the Swiss Federal Council.

The plan to expel foreign residents guilty of anything from murder to speeding was proposed by the SVP, which has around a third of the seats in Switzerland’s lower house of parliament.

But it faced opposition from activists and business leaders who said it would violate human rights and complicate relations with Switzerland’s main trade partner, the European Union, already angered by a 2014 vote that backed quotas on EU workers.

Under the plans, foreigners would have been deported after completing sentences for serious crimes like murder, rape and armed robbery, or for two lesser offences committed within a 10-year span such as speeding or burglary.

The Swiss People’s Party had collected the 100-thousand signatures needed to start the referendum under Switzerland’s system of direct democracy.