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People’s Party votes against labour referendum

Swiss People's Party leaders have decided they will not ask for a referendum against the continuation and extension of a key labour accord with the European Union.

The rightwing party decided by 326 votes to 166 against a move calling for a nationwide vote against the continuation of the freedom of movement of persons from the European Union, to include new members Romania and Bulgaria.

In what was an emotional meeting in the town of Brig in southwestern Switzerland, which included more than 40 speakers, many spoke in favour of a referendum.

But Swiss voters will now have to decide on one package – approved by parliament in the middle of June.

The agreement on the free movement of people has been in force with the 15 “old” EU countries since 2002, after which voters agreed to extend the right to ten new member states.

The accord lasts until 2009. The EU will prolong it automatically, but in Switzerland the continuation is subject to a referendum, which should be held at the latest by next May.

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SWI swissinfo.ch - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR