On 29 November, Switzerland held a referendum on three main questions. Firstly, the voters could decide if Switzerland would impose higher taxes on Swiss residents working in a different country. This proposal was rejected. Secondly, a much debated question concerned gold reserves of the Swiss National Bank. The far right Swiss People´s Party, fearing that the gold-reserve levels are too low, proposed a new target of 20% of the central bank´s assets to be held in gold. Today, the level is approx. 8%. This would mean massive gold purchases in the following years, which would surely affect the stagnating global gold market. Also this proposal was rejected. Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, an environmentalist group proposed a 0,2% (of the Swiss population) cap on immigration, which was also rejected. This would mean effectively cutting the immigration to 1/4 of its current levels. Also, this would be a direct breach of the EU-Swiss treaties which provide for free movement of people. In a similar referendum this year, the voters actually supported the Swiss People´s Party´s proposal to cap immigration. The first referendum, though, gives the government more breathing space than the outright 0,2% cap voted on last month. Nevertheless, the EU has repeatedly expressed its view that free movements are non-negotiable. The Swiss “no” in last month´s referendum is therefore a relief, but not a final solution.
20th December 2021
13th January 2022