Swiss vote on citizenship measure after anti-Muslim campaignSun, 12 Feb, 2017
| Posted By: The Times Of Earth (TOE)
A man walks past an electoral poster by the Committee against Facilitated Naturalization/Citizenship reading "Uncontrolled Naturalisation? No" featuring a woman wearing a niqab, in a train station in Zurich, on February 7, 2017 (AFP Photo/Michael BUH
Swiss voters were deciding Sunday whether to make it easier for "third-generation foreigners" to get Swiss citizenship and whether to lock in competitive low tax rates for foreign companies in Switzerland.
The "simplified naturalization of third-generation immigrants" measure is expected to pass in the referendum. It would simplify applications for anyone under 25 whose parents and grandparents have lived in Switzerland for years.
Polls have suggested a tight race over the complex tax reform initiative, which aims to get Switzerland in line with international standards by scrapping a two-track tax system that offers lower rates to foreign firms to lure investment.
Leaving a polling station at the opulent Basel City Hall, architect Rolf Rurrer said he supported both initiatives.
"On the taxes, it's very clear that for the middle class, it's better," said Rurrer, 62. "I'm an independent entrepreneur so I have to pay taxes for my firm and I want to lower them."
"As for the immigration, we need all the people who like to be here. I think three generations is enough," he said.
Sunday's referendum is the latest installment of Switzerland's direct democracy that gives voters a frequent say on political decisions. A third issue on the national ballot involves infrastructure spending.
Voters in the eastern Graubuenden canton, or region, are also deciding whether to bid to host the 2026 Winter Olympics. Four years ago, the region rejected a similar referendum about the 2022 Winter Games, which were eventually awarded to Beijing.
Those hoping to benefit from the new, easier way to Swiss citizenship include high school student Selena Mercado. The 17-year-old was born in Switzerland, has gone to school in Switzerland, considers herself Swiss and dreams of a political career in the country one day.
But her passport is from Chile, a country that she's never set foot in but was home to her grandparents before they moved to this small Alpine nation decades ago.
"I want to give back to Switzerland,'" said Mercado, who lives in Vallorbe on the French border.