You are here

Swiss Democracy wins referendum to apply quotas to immigration numbers

On 9 February 2014, a Yes vote of more than 50% was obtained and the referendum to have a quota limiting immigration to Switzerland has now passed. Three referendums were held in Switzerland on this day. Voters were asked whether they approved of a proposal to impose a quota on immigration, a federal decree on the financing and expansion of the rail network and a federal popular initiative on abortion. Further referendums are planned for 18 May, 28 September and 30 November, with one to include a proposal on guaranteed income. Note also inside, Malthus on Switzerland's history of population stability.

The abortion referendum proposed that abortions would no longer be funded through health insurance, but should be paid for privately by the mother. The immigration reform proposal was supported by the Swiss People's Party,and opposed the free movement of workers between the EU and Switzerland, which was introduced following a 2000 referendum.

Results

The abortion referendum, that would have dropped abortion coverage from public health insurance, failed by a large margin, with about 70% of participating voters rejecting the proposal.

The immigration restriction proposal was supported by 50.3% of participating voters and approved by the required majority of cantons. The immigration measure requires the Swiss government to either renegotiate the Swiss-EU agreement of free movement of people within three years, or to revoke the agreement.

The proposal mandates re-introduction of strict quotas for various immigration categories, and imposes limits on the ability of foreigners to bring in their family members to live in Switzerland, to access Swiss social security benefits and to request asylum. Opinion polls ahead of the vote showed the lead for the opponents of the immigration measure, but that lead began to close as the day of the referendum approached.

Typical voter turnout in Switzerland is around 40%, and the 55.8% turnout for the February 2014 referendum is considered high. [1]

ECOPOP

The swiss ecological group, ECOPOP, was a key educator in this movement.[2]

ECOPOP, which describes itself as 'an association for environment and population' has a couple of key initiatives:

- To bring back the annual immigration rate to Switzerland to 0.2% of the permanent population.
- To apportion 10% of the development aid budget to the promotion of voluntary family planning.

ECOPOP active for more than 40 years

"ECOPOP (ECOlogie and POPulation) is a politically independent environmental organisation. Its objective is to preserve natural resources and quality of life in Switzerland and in the world for generations to come."

Every 12 years, a million more people in Switzerland!

"The rapid increase of population in Switzerland and in other countries damages the environment, reduces quality of life and is in conflict with the aims of Article 73 of the Swiss Federal Constitution - a sustainable world.

Since planetary ecological capacity and resources are limited, independent of national borders, and, given that international immigration flows are climbing, this federal peoples' initiative should help reduce demographic pressure, at national and international level."

[Note that, in Australia, the population is increasing by one million every three years which shows how bad Australia's plight is. (“Australia's estimated resident population (ERP) reached 22.7 million at 30 June 2012, increasing by 1.9 million people or 9.0% since 30 June 2007.’ ABS)]

So – which is 1.14 million in 3 years (calculated) ]

Malthus noted that the Swiss have a long tradition of small stable populations

The ECOPOP website does not mention this, but Thomas Malthus, in his last book,[3] wrote of this characteristic of the Swiss population.

Although better known for his theories about exponential population growth, Malthus also collected examples of stable populations in Continental Europe at the end of the 18th century, publishing this work in 1826. Among other examples, he discussed the Swiss parish of Leyzin.

In Leyzin, a pastoral society, life-expectancy was considered by Malthus to be extraordinarily high at 61 years. Average number of the births over a period of 30 years was "almost accurately equal to the number of deaths" and emigration was not a factor or a consequence. As Malthus observed, during this period, “the resources of the parish for the support of population had remained nearly stationary.” He described the pastures as limited, and not easily increased either in quantity or quality. The number of cattle, which could therefore be kept upon them was also limited and, "in the same manner the number of persons required for the care of these cattle."

Malthus theorised therefore that young Swiss men were not able to leave their fathers' houses and marry until employment as herdsman, dairymen, or similar, became vacant through a death.

"As, from the extreme healthiness of the people, this must happen very slowly, it is evident that the majority of them must wait during a great part of their youth in their bachelor state, or run the most obvious risk of starving themselves and their families.”

Malthus added that:

“The case is still stronger than in Norway, and receives a particular precision from the circumstance of the births and deaths being so nearly equal.”

Had he looked into the matter more carefully, Malthus would have realised that Swiss villages were small and comparatively isolated. Kinship rules meant that prospective brides and grooms were limited in one's own village and the rugged terrain meant that one's choice was quite limited outside the village as well.

Planes, trains and automobiles have have brought much greater population movement and fertility opportunity to the Swiss, but Switzerland remains democratic, retaining a system of popular referendums. It is this true democracy that has permitted the Swiss to control and advise their government about the immigration and population numbers that they want. They know their history and their country and they know their carrying capacity.

This is a great contrast to Australia, which has little effective democracy. In Australia the government and big business tell Australians what they must put up with. Currently Australia is being flooded with immigrants in such numbers that representation, choice and self-government are being destroyed, with the local population marginalised and disparaged.

Australians' lack of control over their population is deeply ironic because Thomas Malthus declared in his second book that the first had been inspired by the low population of the Australian Aborigines, as remarked upon by Captain Cook [sic]. (It was actually Joseph Banks).

NOTES

[1] Details of referendums, voting trends and outcomes were taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swiss_referendums,_2014 with only minor paraphrasing.

[2] Information about ECOPOP, their aims and the rate of population growth were translated by Sheila Newman from the French page of ECOPOP, http://www.ecopop.ch/joomla/index.php/fr/. There are Italian and German versions of the ECOPOP website too. The the illustration of the high-rises intruding on rural buildings were also taken from the ECOPOP website.

[3] Malthus, Thomas, 1826. Of the Checks to Population in Switzerland in Of the Checks to Population in the different states of Modern Europe in An Essay on the Principle of Population, Book II 6th edition, Library of Economics and Liberty, http://www.econlib.org/library/Malthus/malPlong7.html#II.I.9 cited in S.M. Newman, Demography, Territory, Law: The Rules of Animal and Human Populations, Countershock Press, Australia, 2013

Malthus, the classic whipping-boy for Marxists and a poster-boy for many biological scientists, is usually given credit for his earlier work (1798) where he saw no way out of the Hobbsian destiny apart from abstinence on the part of the numerous poor. However Malthus did not stop his studies there. He did a world tour, inquiring into births, deaths, marriages and making statistical notes, published in 1826. In the extract here, he discusses European steady-state societies.

[4] Source. S.M. Newman, Demography, Territory, Law: The Rules of Animal and Human Populations, Countershock Press, Australia, 2013, pp. 68-69.

Comments

Very interesting! Thanks for reporting this Sheila.

Matt

Nothing can grow forever, and there's a blind spot in human mentality that assumes that when it comes to our own numbers, growth can be perpetual and increases in population can go on indefinitely. We all recognise that farmers can over-stock their land, and there can be "too many" animals on finite landscapes, but when it comes to our own species, growth can be indefinite without impacting on ecology, housing, costs of living, social cohesion and food supplies.

Once there are borders, boundaries, limits to human expansion, populations will be forced to reconsider their numbers and their fertility levels. International migration is giving an appearance of escape, of plenty, of new lands to give migrants a "better life style".

Germany: 1.4 ( 8.2% are foreigners).
Holland: 1.8 (4.4% are foreigners).
Belgium: 1.8 ( 9.8% are foreigners).
Spain: 1.4 (12.4% are foreigners).
Italy: 1.4 ( 7.1% are foreigners).

The fertility rate of half the world is below replacement level, but immigration from overpopulated developing nations is undermining national ethnic cultures and demographies.

What has peaked is the rate of population growth. It took just 12.5 years for the world’s population to grow from four to five billion, 11.8 years for it to grow from five to six, but it has taken almost 13 years to grow to seven billion. Japan’s fertility rate has been below replacement level since the mid-1970s. But unlike Europe, Japan has almost no immigration. However, their economy is healthy and living standards can only improve.

There seems to be a population blind-spot in human thinking, and vortex of illogic that must be overcome by legislation, and policies. Generational growth must be stemmed as people wake up and realise that living standards are declining, and "food security" issues are a symptom of ecological overshoot - globally!

There's an absurd assumption that if we have free trade between nations, we must have free movement of people between the countries too. We have free trade with Japan, but Australians can't live freely in Japan, and they are not coming here in their hoards like the Chinese. They are actually patriotic and unified.
Why should free trade mean open borders? It's considered by libertarians that open borders and immigration restrictions are a terrible injustice against people from Third World countries. Gallup polls have found that 700 million people would like to permanently move to another country, many of them from developing nations with failed political systems.
Freedom of movement is considered a defining feature of what it means to be European. The UK has been at the forefront of these efforts, trying to limit immigration and restricting access to welfare. However, by imposing restrictions on the freedom of movement, the EU would be returning to the economic and cultural nationalism it was meant to overcome. What's wrong with nationalism?
Its as if free trade of goods must also include the flow of people, the destruction of sovereignties and free access to welfare and jobs. It's a homogenisation of nations into one conglomerate, and this means a loss of national identity, culture, standards of living and identity. There has to be some costs in nationhood and identity, and that is restriction of full free movement and residency.
Third world immigration brings third world overpopulation and third world living conditions. It also brings in third world "diversity" of crime. Recently, law-enforcement authorities carried out raids on cockfighting rings across New York City in "Operation Angry Bird." As the New York Daily News reported: "As many as 3,000 roosters were rescued, nine arrested and 70 people rounded up in a ring that stretched through Brooklyn and Queens into Ulster County."
Now, we had a sham "marriage" of a girl as young as 12, and racial tensions following a gang rape of a 14 year old Pacific Island girl in Sydney, by men of "African appearance".
There is a certain level of assumed "racism" and "xenophobia" included in patriotism, and sovereignty. The concepts are blurred in the extremes, but like other living species, we must all be responsible for protecting our environments, our territories, and our social, economic and cultural assets. People are not cars, computers or machinery. These should pass borders, but not people!