Swiss voters have rejected a proposal by a nationalist party to automatically expel foreigners who commit even low-level crimes, Swiss public broadcaster SRF reported hours after polls closed at today.
SRF cited political research group gfs.bern, which projected the measure would be rejected by 59 percent of voters based on partial results from some polling areas.
The outcome comes as a blow to the Swiss People’s Party that had campaigned for the plan, and a turnaround from opinion polls last year which had predicted it would be accepted.
Under its proposal, the law would have been changed to make expulsion part of the sentence for any foreigner, whether for severe crimes like murder or low-level crimes such as threatening officials or giving false testimony if they are committed twice within a ten-year span.
A broad coalition of political parties and legal experts came out against the plan in recent months, arguing that it was “inhuman” and would effectively create a two-tier justice system that treats Switzerland’s two million or so foreigners about a quarter of the population more harshly.
The People’s Party, which campaigns heavily against immigration, had claimed that a law Parliament proposed following a 2010 referendum on the issue didn’t go far enough because it gave judges room to consider the impact that expulsion would have.
Pascal Sciarini, A university of Geneva political scientist, said lawmakers will still be required to stiffen laws against foreigners who commit crimes following the results of the earlier referendum on the issue that has yet to be applied.