It could be tempting for the rest of Europe to dismiss Swiss voters as irrational after Sunday’s referendum. The vote results in a constitutional amendment that will control immigration, including from EU countries, violating the terms of Switzerland’s treaty with Brussels. Yet to dismiss Swiss voters in this way would be a mistake.
The outcome of the vote is a blow for the government. Hope of meaningful EU concessions will melt away like the late spring snow. A country situated in the heart of Europe now faces a stark choice. Will it continue to enjoy the prosperity that springs from an economy deeply embedded in Europe, and accept the partial loss of political sovereignty that comes with it? Or will it become once again the master of its own domain and accept lower living standards as it grows more distant from European markets? The government must enact legislation within three years to implement the constitutional amendment. There is little time left.