Two Controversial Swiss Referendums and Their Consequences

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Isabelle Chapuis-Alvarez, Hope College

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The Swiss Confederation recently passed two controversial referendums. The first banned the construction of minarets, which are Islamic prayer towers. After an initial controversy arose in 2005, the motion was passed in November 2009 by 57% of voters. The other referendum called for the automatic expulsion of foreigners convicted of certain crimes. This law was ratified in November 2010 by a 54% majority. Both referendums were put forth by the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP), also known as the Democratic Union of the Center. The results of these two referendums sparked strong reactions in the international press and drew condemnation on both national and international levels. This project examines the conditions under which these laws were able to be passed and evaluates the consequences for citizens and foreigners in Switzerland.

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