Voters in Zurich have decided not to make the hurdles higher for foreigners wanting to become Swiss citizens in their canton.
On Sunday, 56.4 per cent of voters rejected the new law, which aimed to harmonise naturalisation across the canton. The result means naturalisation decisions will continue to be taken at cantonal and communal level. Turnout was 40 per cent.
Had the new law been accepted, only those people holding a C Permit (a permanent residence permit) would be eligible for naturalisation. At present, a provisionally admitted foreigner (F Permit) could in theory be naturalised.
In addition, age would no longer have made a difference to applications – at present applicants who are under 25 and have spent at least five years in a Swiss school will only be looked into in cases of doubt.
Also, unemployment benefit claimants would no longer have been eligible for naturalisation.
An even more stringent counterproposal by the rightwing Swiss People’s Party, which would have prevented foreigners with criminal records from becoming Swiss, was defeated by an even greater margin.