THE right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP) has exploited popular fears over immigration to become the country’s largest party, winning nearly 30% of the vote in the general election last October. On Sunday, however, the SVP suffered a rare defeat. The party had introduced a referendum calling for mandatory expulsion of foreigners convicted of even minor offences.
The so-called “enforcement initiative”, the most controversial of four proposals decided by referendum on Sunday, was turned down by 58.9% of those who voted. To rub salt in the SVP’s wound, voter turnout was 62%, the highest since Switzerland’s 1992 vote to stay out of the European Economic Area.