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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Lessons From Swiss immigration vote -- By Angelo M. Codevilla, The Washington Times

 (Illustration by Alexander Hunter, The Washington Times)

Illustration by Alexander Hunter/The Washington TimesThe governing class is unnerved when people vote their national interest

On Sunday, the people of Switzerland approved a referendum that imposes restrictions on the number of foreigners allowed to live and work in their country despite an all-out opposition campaign on the part of the country's political, social and economic establishment, as well as by every government of the European Union.

The Euro-American ruling class is up in arms at the result because the Swiss people decided to do things that the majority of people throughout Europe and America might like to do, but which the rulers in these pretend democracies prevent the people from doing.

There is no appealing a referendum in Switzerland because the people are "the sovereign" practically as well as theoretically. Now the Euro-American ruling class fears that the Swiss example might spread.

Because the people's exercise of their sovereign power is the main lesson to be taken from Sunday's events, let us look at what we might learn from Switzerland's ballot.

The Swiss do not engage in isolationism or xenophobia. The country is made up of three major linguistic groups, and 27 percent of its population is made up of foreigners. It lives by foreign trade.

Nor do the Swiss question the need for, and desirability of, foreign workers or residents. However, unlike their self-appointed betters, they want to consider what limits may be consistent with maintaining their very identity.

To this end, the referendum merely authorized annual quotas for work permits and mandated preferential hiring for Swiss citizens. Substantively, no big deal.

The political class showed by its reaction that, like the Swiss voters themselves, it understands that the issue really is about who rules: Who is really the sovereign in modern European (and, one may add, American) society? Who is "sovereign," the people or the political parties, the government bureaucracy, and those whose fortunes depend on them?

Zurich's daily Neue Zurcher Zeitung thus summed up the fact that the issue goes well beyond immigration: "The Yes to the 'Massive Immigration Initiative' is a censure that is comparable to No to the European Economic Area."

In short, as the Swiss people have done on previous occasions, they rejected the unanimous advice, entreaties, warnings and threats of the ruling class of their country, their continent and, indeed, the entire Euro-American establishment.

Just as in 1992 the Swiss people had rejected binding themselves to the common rules of the European Economic Area (which morphed into the EU), in 2014 they asserted their right to limit who comes into their country.

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