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Swiss split over equal opportunity for foreigners

Not always welcome: some foreigners have described as black sheep by politicians in recent years Keystone

Only slightly more than one in two Swiss believe that foreigners deserve the same chances as Swiss, according to figures released by the Federal Statistical Office on Tuesday.

Those polled were asked if they preferred foreigners be given the same opportunities as Swiss citizens or if Switzerland should provide better chances for its own citizens. Only 55.7% said they were in favour of equality, while 38% said they favoured a national preference.

Women were less open than men: 40% of women and 35% of men polled thought Swiss citizens should have greater opportunities than foreigners.

Age was a factor in the survey. More than two-thirds of people aged 16 to 24 reckoned foreigners should be given the same opportunities, compared with 62% of 25-to-39-year-olds.

The approval rate dropped off as people got older, with just 45% of retirees in favour of equality.

Regional factors also had a bearing on the results. The inhabitants of the Zurich region and northwestern Switzerland (60% at least) believed more in equal opportunities, while the figure dropped as low as 53% in other parts of the country.

Education also played a role: 40% of Swiss citizens who only completed compulsory schooling were in favour of equality, while nearly three-quarters of those who attended a university supported the same opportunities for foreigners.

Unsurprisingly, foreign citizens polled by the the statistical office believed equal opportunity should be the norm, with more than 70% stating that they deserved the same chances as the Swiss.

The statistical office collected the data as part of its survey on incomes and living conditions in 2012. Every year, 7,000 households and 17,000 people over the age of 16 are questioned for the survey.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR