Closer security and asylum cooperation with the European Union enjoys widespread support in Switzerland, according to the latest opinion poll.This content was published on October 30, 2004 - 11:38
The survey, commissioned by the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, says 69 per cent of potential voters are in favour of the Schengen/Dublin accords.
Around 46 per cent of respondents said they fully agreed with the accords, while a further 23 per cent stated they were largely in favour.
Only eight per cent were definitely against closer cooperation on security and asylum issues among the 25 EU member states and Switzerland. Nine per cent of those interviewed said they were largely against the accords.
The survey, published on Saturday, was carried out by the GfS Bern research and polling institute earlier this month.
The authors of the survey said they found no significant differences of opinion between respondents in the main German-speaking part of Switzerland and those in the French-language regions of the country.
However, only 54 per cent of those questioned in the minority Italian-speaking region in southern Switzerland backed the proposals.
The Schengen/Dublin agreement enjoyed strong support among supporters of the centre-left Social Democratic Party (86 per cent) as well as the centre-right Radical Party (85 per cent) and the Christian Democrats (72 per cent).
Unsurprisingly, strong opposition against the Schengen/Dublin accords came from supporters of the rightwing Swiss People’s Party, which has threatened to challenge the treaty in a nationwide vote.
The GfS survey found 47 per cent of People’s Party supporters were against closer cooperation with Brussels.
But the polling institute pointed out that 38 per cent of People’s Party supporters were in favour, and a further 15 per cent said they had not made up their minds.
Compared with a similar poll, conducted in August, supporters and opponents of the Schengen/Dublin accords each gained five percentage points at the expense of undecided potential voters.
The GfS institute said the 69 per cent approval rate and a relatively small number of undecided potential voters – 14 per cent - were a clear indication that the accords stood a good change of passing the test at the ballot box.
However, it warned that it was not uncommon for leaders of early opinion polls to come in second on voting day.
The institute also said projected voter turnout of 44 per cent could rise once campaigning gathered pace.
Switzerland and the EU signed the Schengen/Dublin accord last Tuesday as part of a second series of bilateral treaties.
In December the Swiss parliament is due to debate the set of nine treaties as well as a protocol aimed at granting access to the Swiss labour market for citizens of the ten new EU member states.
Swiss voters are likely to have their say next year.
The People’s Party and the isolationist Campaign for an Independent and Neutral Switzerland said they would challenge the Schengen/Dublin accord to a nationwide vote.
They claim the accord would trigger a wave of foreign criminals in Switzerland and undermine the country’s sovereignty.
In 2000 a first set of bilateral treaties between Brussels and Bern was approved by 67 per cent of Swiss voters.
swissinfo, Olivier Pauchard
69% in favour of Schengen/Dublin
Expected voter turnout: 44%
The opinion poll was carried out among 1,213 people across Switzerland from October 18-22.
The rightwing Swiss People’s Party has pledged to challenge the Schengen/Dublin accord in a nationwide vote.
No date has yet been set for the ballot, but a vote is not likely before June 2005.
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