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Switzerland massively REJECTS free movement of people deal with EU, polls suggests

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VOTERS in Switzerland have rejected a proposed end to free movement with member states of the European Union, projections suggest.

The country is not in the EU, but has a number of agreements in place that replicate certain aspects of membership.

Among the agreements is an accord that allows free movement between Switzerland and EU member states.

The agreement first came into force in 2005, and allows Switzerland to trade freely with other members of the European Economic Area (EEA).

Today saw the electorate go to the polls to vote on a proposed end to agreement advocated by the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP).

The party say they want Switzerland to regain control of its borders and introduce a more selective immigration system.

Current projections suggest voters are set to vote to keep the current arrangement by 62 percent to 38 percent.

The votes are still being counted, but a result is due to be announced this evening.

Unusually among modern democratic nations, Switzerland practices a system of direct democracy alongside its representative democracy.

Public voters are frequently held to decide on policy issues, with ballots occurring around four times a year, often on multiple issues.

In a 2014 referendum, the country voted narrowly in favour of introducing quotas on residents and work permits for citizens from elsewhere in the EEA.

The limit was later lifted and replaced by a provision giving priority to Switzerland-based job seekers.

Leading up to today’s vote, polls had suggested that voters were poised to reject the proposed changes.

SVP President Marco Chiesa has conceded that his party failed to gain the support it needed.

“We will continue to fight for the country and take back control of immigration,” he said.

Responding to the projected result on twitter, EU Commissioner for Economy Paolo Gentiloni said: “It’s a beautiful Sunday for democracy and Europe.”

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