Swiss people will probably have to vote on immigration again, say newspapers the morning after the cabinet announced its plan for re-jigging its free movement of people accord with the European Union.
The proposal comes a year after voters narrowly accepted an initiative to curb immigration. Now there’ll be yet “another year of uncertainty”, predicted the Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ) in its editorial – headlined “Cabinet Shadowboxing”. The NZZ said there was nothing in the cabinet’s proposal that it couldn’t have presented “months ago”.
“Yesterday, the cabinet didn’t make any progress,” stated the Neue Luzerner Zeitung. It went on to say that the cabinet’s soft approach signalled to Brussels that it would only implement the anti-immigration initiative “if the EU grants Switzerland special rules”.
“Another vote is probably inevitable,” echoed the Tages-Anzeiger, which doubted that it would be possible to find a result in accordance with bilateral agreements.
Blick agreed that the cabinet’s plan – which still has to be approved by the parliament – would hardly appeal to the EU.
“Let’s be honest: the EU is unlikely to accept quotas. This is why we need the emergency parachute of direct democracy. Ultimately, the people will have to decide between bilateral accords and immigration restriction,” stated Blick.
Yet not all of the commentary was critical. “Well done, cabinet,” said the Nordwestschweiz. “This path that says, ‘Let’s see what we can do’ is the only sensible way,” said the paper, but it also concluded that the issue would probably come to another vote.
Taking things one step at a time is politically correct, found the Bund.
“Before we even think of another vote, the cabinet has to try to get a least some leverage in Brussels to manage immigration, perhaps via some sort of protection clause,” said Bund.
The Berner Zeitung and Landboten described the proposal as “thoughtful and well structured”, and expressed worry that it might go “to waste” as the EU would be unlikely to give up the free movement of people – and predicted a “showdown”.
In an editorial headlined “High wire”, Le Temps also hinted at high drama on the horizon.
“Nobody, except possibly the Swiss People’s Party in its most dubious intentions, really wants to give up the bilateral agreements,” said Le Temps.
It went on to describe the Swiss position as “fragile”, describing the EU negotiations as acrobatics on the high wire, with the Swiss negotiators “condemned to do pirouettes on an improbably bilateral path” that would inevitably require a new vote.