REFILE-UPDATE 3-Swiss voters reject gold, immigration proposals, salvaging …

December 1, 2014 Posted by admin

(Removes extraneous word from second paragraph)

* Gold initiative rejected by 77 pct of voters

* Votes on immigration, tax also fail

* Govt welcomes result but says talks with EU unaffected

* SNB repeats commitment to cap on Swiss franc

By Alice Baghdjian and Caroline Copley

ZURICH, Nov 30 (Reuters) – Swiss voters overwhelmingly
rejected proposals on Sunday to boost gold reserves and impose
strict new curbs on immigration, averting a potential nightmare
for policymakers struggling with a popular backlash against the
country’s open borders.

The referendums are part of a recent flurry of initiatives
under Switzerland’s model of direct democracy that have
threatened to undermine the non-EU member’s reputation for

They reflect a growing public view that Switzerland is under
siege from foreign workers eroding its Alpine culture and from
trading partners who have insisted in recent years that the
Swiss dismantle their business model based on banking secrecy.

“The result of both today’s gold and immigration referenda
show that the Swiss public want to pursue a coherent
international economic policy and do not want to create new
tensions with their EU neighbours,” said Reto Foellmi, Professor
of International Economics at the University of St. Gallen.

The “Save our Swiss gold” initiative, proposed by the
right-wing Swiss People’s Party out of concern the central bank
has sold too much of its gold in the past, was rejected by 77
percent of voters, said Swiss broadcaster SRF.

The measure would have compelled the Swiss National Bank
(SNB) to boost its gold reserves to 20 percent of its assets
from around 8 percent currently, and banned it from ever selling
the metal, threatening its ability to defend a 1.20 euro cap on
the Swiss franc imposed at the height of the euro crisis.

The SNB welcomed the result with the refrain that it would
continue to defend the cap, buying unlimited quantities of
foreign currency and take further measures immediately, if

Spot gold was holding just below $1,167 an ounce on Sunday,
down 3 percent this year.

“We anticipate a short-term sell off in gold, although a no
vote was mostly priced in,” said Peter Rosenstreich, an analyst
at Swissquote.

A separate proposal to cut annual immigration by
three-quarters from current levels, put forward by
environmentalist group Ecopop, was rejected by 74 percent of
voters, SRF said.

The Ecopop referendum, which proposed capping the number of
immigrants at just 0.2 percent of the resident population, was
been seen as a proxy vote on Switzerland’s raft of treaties with
the EU, its biggest trading partner.

The outcome allows the Swiss government to push ahead with
its attempts to salvage these bilateral agreements after the
approval of a previous proposal to introduce unspecified
immigration quotas in February called into question its
commitment to the free movement of people act – a key tenet of
the treaties.

“The government has got more breathing space to negotiate
with the EU,” said Regula Rytz, co-president of the Green Party.

However, the Swiss government said the state of play between
Switzerland and the EU, which maintains free movement of people
is non-negotiable, was unchanged after Sunday’s vote.

Switzerland’s system of direct democracy gives the
electorate the right to force popular votes if they can gather
enough signatures of support. A third set of proposals to scrap
one of Switzerland’s biggest tax perks for expatriates was also

(Additional reporting by Jan Harvey in London; editing by Emma
Thomasson, Rosalind Russell and Philippa Fletcher)

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