Immigration: a model for success or the end of Switzerland?

Immigration: a model for success or the end of Switzerland?



The rising numbers of asylum seekers and immigrants are causing a heated debate between the parties. While there are changing alliances in asylum policy, the motto in the discussion about the free movement of people is: everyone against the SVP.

There was no grace period at the beginning of this show. Instead, SVP parliamentary group president Thomas Aeschi opened the debate with a frontal attack on SP National Councilor Céline Widmer: “There are too many and the wrong foreigners in Switzerland. And if the SP had its way, we would have up to 400,000 asylum migrants from Africa here this year!”

Widmer replied that Switzerland must assume its humanitarian responsibility. “We have more people fleeing than ever before – but the SVP stirs up hatred and hatred towards the weakest.” Last year, she proved to people from Ukraine that Switzerland is ready to take in refugees.

“The SVP wants everyone out – get everyone in the SP,” commented FDP Vice President Andrea Caroni. Instead of such extreme positions, a tough but fair migration policy is needed. “Anyone who simply wants to meander through the social system will be sent back.” Those who are politically persecuted, on the other hand, must be offered protection.

Mitte parliamentary group president Philipp Bregy also demarcated his party’s line between right and left: “There are many people fleeing, also because of Putin’s brutal war in Ukraine. We have to do our part.” People without a right to stay, on the other hand, would have to be consistently sent back.

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Integration as the key to success?

Green Vice-President Sibel Arslan criticized the fact that in Switzerland there were too many discussions about individual cases of criminal foreigners instead of how to help the refugees. “These people are fleeing from war or climate catastrophes. They need our protection!” She accused the bourgeois parties of doing too little to integrate refugees.

We don’t need noise, we need solutions.

GLP National Councilor Corina Gredig also underlined the importance of integration. With regard to the increasing number of asylum seekers, it is also important that Switzerland cooperates with the EU and carries out asylum procedures quickly. “We don’t need noise, we need solutions.”

Immigration bone of contention

The parties in the studio agreed – with the exception of the SVP – that the free movement of people with the EU was a successful model for Switzerland.

“Immigration through the free movement of people is the silver bullet for our country,” emphasized FDP Councilor of States Andrea Caroni. The vast majority of immigrants from the EU come to Switzerland to work. On the other hand, the fact that the Swiss unemployment rate is so low shows that no Swiss people are being pushed out of the labor market.

Without foreign workers, not a single hospital could be operated in Ticino and French-speaking Switzerland

“Without foreign workers, you couldn’t run a single hospital in Ticino and Romandy,” agreed Central National Councilor Philipp Bregy. SP, FDP, Mitte, Grüne and GLP all agreed on the show that the free movement of people is part of the successful Swiss model – and is helping the country to prosper.

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Only SVP National Councilor Thomas Aeschi disagreed, arguing that too many people were coming to Switzerland. As a result, more and more apartments, more roads and more energy are needed. But: “We must not simply build Switzerland!” The SVP recently launched the “Sustainability Initiative”, another attempt by the party to limit immigration by going to the ballot box.

Restrict immigration because of nature conservation? “The SVP is so dishonest,” said SP national councilor Céline Widmer. The exchange of blows stayed the same – until the end.

Arena, 09/01/2023, 10:25 p.m

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