How I love and admire Switzerland. Now more than ever.
A vast majority of the Swiss people, 78.5%, have yesterday voted in a referendum, approving the amendments to further restrict the asylum law in the country. All cantons of the confederation have been in favour.
"A big disappointment" commented the result Adèle Thorens, co-chairman of the Greens. "We did not expect to win, but we did not expect a similar result." That the Greens are disappointed is a measure of how good the changes are, at least in relation to the rest of Europe.
The amendments to the asylum law, approved by parliament at the end of last September, are designed to accelerate the formal procedures, revoke the opportunity to apply for asylum in embassies, and no longer recognize conscientious objection as a reason for obtaining the status of refugee.
On the other hand they allow federal authorities to temporarily convert buildings, mostly military, into asylum seekers shelters, even without the consent of the cantons and the municipalities concerned. And they allow the possibility of opening centres for "problematic" asylum seekers.
The Swiss law on asylum had already gone through a series of progressively-restricting changes, all approved by the people.
It's an easy prediction that, if every country in Western Europe were allowed a referendum on asylum and immigration, the result would be similar. It's also easy to predict that no other country would go down the same route as Switzerland, a nation with historical direct democracy roots, exactly because the result would be similar.
Switzerland has planned another referendum for 2015, this time to curb all immigration and not just asylum seeking.
Another poll, this in Holland and not a referendum but simply a public opinion survey, shows, in the words of Geert Wilders, that “The Netherlands has had enough of Islam”:
More than three quarters of the Dutch (77 percent) believe that Islam is no enrichment for our country. More than two-thirds – 68 percent – say that there is enough Islam in the Netherlands. It is striking that a majority of voters from all political parties (from PVV to VVD, CDA, D66, PvdA, SP and 50plus) share this view.
A poll conducted by the research bureau of Maurice de Hond (the Dutch equivalent of Gallup), commissioned by the PVV, among a representative sample of over 1,900 people also shows other striking results:
A majority of 55 percent favors stopping immigration from Islamic countries.
63 percent say: no new mosques.
72 percent favor a constitutional ban on Sharia law in the Netherlands.
64 percent say that the arrival of immigrants from Islamic countries has not been beneficial to the Netherlands.
Nearly three-quarters – 73 percent – of all Dutch see a relationship between Islam and the recent terror acts in Boston, London and Paris.