To crow, or not to crow

“Freipass für alle” means something like “free passing” or “free passport”. You can figure what “Nein” means from the image below:

On February 8th, Swiss citizen are voting for or against extending the bilateral agreements with the EU to the new members, Romania and Bulgaria. More about what that means, here.

SVP is a self-entitled “middle class” party, currently part of the governing coalition in Switzerland.

They clearly oppose extending the bilateral agreement, and chose to communicate it this way. Their fears about extending the bilateral EU-agreement to Ro&Bul are, in short (more here, in German):

– increase in unemployment
– lower wages
– strain on social services
– more crime

They’re also angry at the bundling of the referendum about Romania and Bulgaria with the referendum about prolongation of all other “bilaterals”, so one cannot go without the other – an interesting move from the Swiss Government, clearly favoring the RO&BUL duo. SVP considers this “EU blackmail”.

Other stakeholders, in favor of extending the agreements, are running a campaign of their own:

and

Lately, the latter campaign has picked up momentum, while the “crows” seem to have lost a bit, but it can be just an impression.

The SVP campaign has been, obviously, controversial, a “Romanians in Switzerland” website running a protest against the campaign, asking the government to stop it.

On one hand, when seeing the posters I felt offended; on the other hand, I wouldn’t want the campaign to be abusively stopped. For one, it’s freedom of speech, for the other, you gotta give it o those guys, at least they say it in your face. Moreover, I think this says at least as much about themselves than about those “targeted”, and hope it will turn against them on the long run.

The Swiss Government and most of the business world seem a bit worried – if the “bilaterals” fail, it’s big (economic) trouble. They created a website supporting the “cause”, which among other things features counter-arguments to SVP’s claims. Some of them below:

    – on increase in unemployment: roms and bulgs will take mostly jobs which cannot find candidates currently, it won’t push innocent delicate swiss jobseekers out of the way. residence permits will be given only pending existing job offers or enough money to sustain oneself, which will automatically keep the inflow of “crows” at bay
    – on lower wages – actually, swiss wages have been increasing after the agreement with the EU was adopted with 3%
    – on strain on social policies – actually, foreigners pay 19% to social contribution, but get only 15% back. (my understanding: there are less retired foreigners than working ones, which is intuitively sound
    – on more crime – Gypsies (their big fear) have been able to travel to Switzerland without visa since 2004. Crime rates have seen no jump as a consequence.
    – on the EU blackmailing – the “guillotine clause”, which implies cancellation of the agreement with all of the EU if one country is not accepted, has been adopted by the Swiss government because they in turn would not accept differentiated treatment for any of its cantons in an international agreement. Therefore it is the Swiss who will exit the treatment, it is not something the EU requires. The EU would actually not mind renegotiating a treaty, since this one is very favorable to Switzerland.

All in all, I’m curious how Feb 8th will play out.

One response to “To crow, or not to crow

  1. explorish February 11, 2009 at 12:48

    Update: The “bilaterals” were approved with 59.6% YES votes.
    More on the results, here and here.

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