Monday, February 10, 2014

A Political Scientist Looks at the Swiss Vote ...

... and finds a negative correlation between the vote to restrict immigration and the percentage of foreigners in a canton. Controlling for other factors such as language and religion, he finds that the German-speaking cantons were far more likely to vote to restrict immigration than the French-speaking ones.


3 comments:

Siegfried said...

I don't especially know the Swiss demographics ; but the same kinds of correlations are done in France with the FN votes, and one simple explanation could be the fact that people living in countryside and far suburbs have, for those who migrated recently, mostly did it, not for economical reasons, but because they did not want of a poor or medium life in big cities, with all that goes with, part of which is immigrants and the "libanisation" of the poorest quarters of the cities.

Passerby said...

The Italian-speaking region massively voted for this initiative and tipped the vote (it passed with 50.3%).


@Sigfried: the Swiss immigration is very different from what other countries may experience. It's almost entirely made of qualified & highly-qualified workforce, and these newcomers are not really competing for the same jobs as locals. Which is why unemployment has dropped to around 3%.

The qualified workforce occupies jobs that locals don't want or are not numerous enough to fill (esp. in restaurant, hotels, construction and hospitals). Many of the "Frontaliers" enters in this category.


The highly-qualified workforce is a result of Switzerland efforts to attract corporations. Basically, large multinational are offered very attractive tax packages in exchange for setting-up their operations (manufacturing or more of regional headquarters). For example, I worked for a US company who agreed to maintain its operations for 20 years in exchange of no tax for the first 10 years.
Aside for engineering and some support functions (admin, IT, etc.), most of the jobs are filled by highly-qualified expats. The benefits for the Swiss economy is indirect, through the B2B and expat spending.

Because cantons cannot afford to see these multinational companies leave, so they will probably carve special agreements so that immigration quotas do not prevent headquarters from rotating employees around Europe.

Ironically, the rural areas who voted for this initiative may be the one hit the hardest by its consequences. 8 bilateral agreements between Switzerland and the EU have been signed, and they are all linked together by a «guillotine clause». If any party choose to cancel any treaty, it automatically cancels the other 7.

What many voters did not realize is that removing free movement of persons, effectively removes free trade with the EU and its 500 million citizens. Among other things that means the return of agricultural quotas like a decade ago.

Switzerland is a sovereign country, it can take its own decisions. But to me it's a very dangerous wager that its citizens have been making on Sunday...

Bill Weber said...

I was told by a Swiss consular official some fifteen years ago that the last canton to vote for women's suffrage had more hands against it than for it, but the chairman simply said that the yeas had it....