A law aimed at harsher asylum and immigration rules appears to be winning voters' approval, according to an opinion poll published one month ahead of a ballot.This content was published on August 25, 2006 - 18:08
Plans by trade unions and centre-left parties to use Swiss National Bank profits to shore up the old age pension scheme could also be heading for victory.
The latest survey, which was unveiled on Friday, was conducted by the gfs polling institute on behalf of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation and comes before a nationwide vote on September 24.
Of the more than 1,200 people interviewed, 54 per cent said they would vote for tougher asylum regulations approved by parliament last December.
Twenty-seven per cent said they would reject the law which is being challenged by the centre-left, the churches and aid organisations. A further 19 per cent are still undecided.
The foreigners law, which aims to give preferential status to citizens from countries of the European Union and the European Free Trade Association (Efta) and increase integration, has the backing of 59 per cent.
The pollsters found that supporters of rightwing and centre-right parties - unsurprisingly - indicated they would vote for tighter asylum and immigration regulations.
Voters in rural areas also appear to come out in favour of the law. There were regional differences as well.
"The French-speaking part is more sceptical about tougher laws than the majority German-speaking region and voters in the Italian-speaking Ticino," Claude Longchamp, who led the study, told swissinfo.
He says it is a well-known phenomenon that areas with a high percentage of foreigners are more willing to integrate than excluding them.
A survey published by another research institute earlier this month showed 43 per cent in favour of harsher asylum rules, 30 per cent against and 27 per cent undecided.
The proposal to use most of the National Bank profits to prop up the ailing state old age pension scheme appears to be popular among voters.
Sixty-one per cent of those polled said they would vote for the plan, put forward by the trade unions, the centre-left Social Democrats and the Greens. Seventeen per cent intend to reject it.
Longchamp cautioned against reading too much into the result.
"We're about a month away from voting day and a lot can happen between now and then, especially with proposals that are presented as people's initiatives.
"People only make up their minds when the campaign is in full swing," he added.
The initiative calls for a National Bank policy change. It wants the bank's profits to go mainly towards funding old age benefits, leaving a SFr1 billion ($0.81 billion) share to the country's 26 cantons.
Under the current distribution plan the cantons, which enjoy a high degree of autonomy, get two thirds of the bank's profits, while the federal authorities receive the remaining one third.
Opponents of the initiative, including the National Bank and the government, warned that the new system would put the bank under undue political pressure and infringe its independence enshrined in the constitution.
Asylum law: 54% yes, 27% no, 19% undecided
Foreigners law: 59% yes, 23% no, 18% undecided
Bank profit for pension scheme: 61% yes, 17% no, 22% undecided
Expected turnout: 36%
The poll is the first of two carried out by the gfs institute ahead of the vote on September 24.
The ballot on spending profits of the central bank for the pension scheme needs to win a double majority of voters and the 26 cantons to pass.
The vote on harsher asylum and immigration rules, already approved by parliament, just needs a majority of voters to pass.
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