Switzerland voted in favor of new immigration curbs, risking a backlash from the European Union and thwarting the ability of companies to hire top talent abroad according to Bloomberg News.
The measure, which requires the government to set an upper limit for foreigners, was supported by 50.3 percent of voters, the government said at a press conference in Bern. Voters in the cities of Zurich and Basel and cantons in western Switzerland opposed the measures, while those in rural German-speaking cantons and the Italian-speaking region of Ticino backed it.
“It’s a change of system with wide-ranging consequences,” including to relations with the European Union, Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga said, adding that the result was due to rising unease among citizens. “We can’t be sure how these negotiations will turn out.”
Immigration has supported economic growth, and the EU bloc is Switzerland’s top export destination. Roughly a fifth of its 8 million inhabitants come from abroad. About 45 percent of employees in its chemical, pharmaceutical and biotech industry are foreigners, according to scienceindstries, an association whose members include drugmakers Roche Holding AG (ROG) and Novartis AG (NOVN), and food company Nestle SA. (NESN)