Voters in canton Bern have rejected a government proposal to fund a special integration project for juvenile asylum seekers.
More than 54% of voters came out against a CHF105 million ($108 million) credit over four years, according to officials.
The conservative right People’s Party forced a vote on the issue, saying unaccompanied adolescents did not need special benefits and they could be housed in regular asylum centres together with adults and families.
The Bern cantonal government warned that rejection of the credits would lead to extra costs for other social services.
Until now, unaccompanied asylum seekers were put up in separate homes in an effort to comply with the Swiss constitution and United Nations conventions for the protection of children.
The number of underage asylum seekers in Switzerland has been on the increase over the past few years. The cantons, which are responsible for housing asylum seekers, have called on the federal authorities to provide additional funds.
swissinfo.ch with agencies/urs