Swiss Voters Reject Citizenship Proposal

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Sun Sep 26 14:15:39 UTC 2004

Forwarded from: Yahoo

Swiss Voters Reject Citizenship Proposal

By JONATHAN FOWLER, Associated Press Writer

GENEVA - Voters in Switzerland where more than one in five is a foreigner
rejected proposals to liberalize tough rules on citizenship in a national
referendum Sunday.  In an outcome revealing the deep divide between the
country's French- and more conservative German-speaking regions, two
government-backed plans failed to win support in a majority of the Alpine
country's 26 cantons, or states, official results showed by early

With the count completed in most cantons, 13 were against and six in
favor. Under Swiss law, referendums need a majority of cantons and of the
popular vote to pass. Projections by public broadcaster SRG-SSR based on a
partial count showed 56 percent of voters against plans to give
citizenship to Swiss-born grandchildren of migrants, and a narrower 51
percent no vote in a separate poll on easing the rules for foreigners
raised and schooled here.

"This is a sad day for Switzerland," said Claudio Micheloni, head of a
migrants' integration association.

About two-thirds of Swiss are German-speakers, and stark political
differences are common.

The Swiss have dubbed that split the "roestigraben," or "hash-brown
divide," because the dish is so common in German-speaking Switzerland and
less popular in French-speaking regions.

Referendums are the cornerstone of Switzerland's system of direct
democracy, and citizens cast ballots several times a year, often facing a
bewildering array of questions. Turnout among the nation's 4.7 million
voters rarely exceeds 50 percent, but 52 percent voted Sunday.

Copyright  2004 The Associated Press.

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