Swiss television reports 50.3 percent of voters backed the “Stop Mass Immigration” initiative proposed by the right wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP), which said the country could not cope with 80,000 new immigrants each year
The decision means the Swiss government will have to renegotiate treaties that allow for the free movement of people to and from the European Union. Swiss citizens have also been able to freely travel and work in EU countries.
Under the new proposal, Switzerland will have to draft legislation setting quotas for European immigrants, as well decide whether they can bring their families with them.
The SVP referendum campaign cited negative effects on housing prices, jobs, public transportation and infrastructure.
Opponents to the referendum argued a measure that curbs to immigration would damage the economy and exacerbate the shortage of highly skilled foreign workers in the country.