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Switzerland: referendum rejects change in citizenship process

The New York Times reports: Swiss voters on Sunday defeated a measure that would have legitimized the practice of allowing secret votes by townspeople on granting citizenship to foreigners in their communities.

The vote was a blow to the powerful far-right Swiss People’s Party, known as SVP, which had initiated the measure. Over all, nearly 64 percent of voters cast “no” ballots, and the measure gained a majority in only one of the country’s 26 cantons.

The defeat shows that the Swiss people “fully back our constitutional state,” the Social-Democratic Party, known as SP, said in a statement. Legal scholars said the measure would have violated the country’s Constitution and the European Human Rights Convention because, among other things, it would have denied rejected applicants any appeals. Buoyed by the vote, the SP said it would soon introduce an initiative to automatically grant citizenship to third-generation foreigners.

The defeated measure would have overturned a Swiss Federal Court ruling in 2003 that found that secret citizenship votes by townspeople were unconstitutional. Despite that ruling, the practice has continued in some parts of the country. -- Swiss Voters Reject Secret Ballots on Citizenship - NYTimes.com

Note: a pre-election story with more background information is here.

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