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Signatures against free movement submitted

A far-right coalition has moved forward in forcing a referendum against the continuation and extension of a key labour accord with the European Union.

Activists from the youth branch of the Swiss People's Party, the Swiss Democrats and the Lega dei Ticinesi handed in 51,700 signatures to the Federal Chancellery on Thursday.

If the Chancellery verifies that the coalition has gathered 50,000 legitimate signatures, Swiss voters will decide on February 8, 2009 whether Switzerland will continue the freedom of movement of people from the European Union and to include new members Romania and Bulgaria.

Some 70 per cent of immigrants to Switzerland enter the country through the free movement framework between Switzerland and the EU.