Swiss voters headed to the polls Sunday to decide on a controversial initiative sought by a right-wing, nationalist party that could lead to automatic expulsions of foreigners who commit even low-level crimes.
The referendum follows repeated efforts in recent years to tighten measures against foreigners, but the Swiss People’s Party says they have not gone far enough.
Polls suggest a close race in the balloting that could lead to automatic expulsions for severe crimes like rape or murder, but also in cases of low-level crimes like speeding or insulting police if they are committed twice within a ten-year span.
Critics say the measure would stigmatize foreigners unfairly but the right-wing party insists it is the people’s will.
Some voters were reluctant to share their thoughts about the referendum, while others openly expressed their anger about the proposal.
“It infuriates me,” said Ferenc Begyl, an 80-year-old artist, noting he himself arrived as a foreigner from Hungary back in the times “when Switzerland was welcoming.”
“I think this initiative could do a lot of harm to Switzerland,” he said. “It doesn’t address the right problems because criminals come from elsewhere and pass through Switzerland.”