Voters in Switzerland rejected a proposed limit on immigration from European Union countries in a national referendum Sunday. The freedom-of-movement proposal put forth by the populist Swiss People’s Party was defeated, with only 38% of voters approving the measure. The intent of the People’s Party was to prioritize access to jobs, social protection and benefits to Swiss citizens over those from the 27 countries of the EU, of which Switzerland is not a member. Critics of the proposal maintained that would have been disadvantageous to Swiss citizens wanting to live or work in any EU member countries. The President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen welcomed the result, saying that it upheld “one of the core pillars of our relationship: the mutual freedom to move, to live and to work in Switzerland and the EU.” About 1.4 million EU citizens live in Switzerland, a country of roughly 8.2 million, while some 500,000 Swiss live in EU member countries. Regarding domestic issues included in the ballot, more than 60 percent of voters favored extending parental leave to fathers, which like maternity leave affords parents 80 percent of their salary, up to 196 Swiss francs per day. The $6.5 billion fighter jet purchase, an issue debated for about a decade, received a yes vote with only 50.1% in favor. Swiss voters rejected an attempt to make it easier to shoot wolves considered a threat to livestock. The turnout of about 60% in Sunday’s referendum was considerably higher than in most recent referendums.
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