Swiss voters have supported a referendum proposal to ban the building of minarets, official results show. More than 57% of voters and 22 out of 26 cantons — or provinces — voted in favour of the ban.
The proposal had been put forward by the Swiss People’s Party, (SVP), the largest party in parliament, which says minarets are a sign of Islamisation.
Is this a sign of the resurgence of hard-right anti-immigrant sentiment in Europe, or is it just an exceptional result from an exceptional country? Switzerland is a very socially conservative place (its famous multilingual tolerance notwithstanding), so in one sense it’s not a surprise that this referendum passed. Still, it was polling at only 37% support a week ago and ended up winning with 57% of the vote. That’s a big swing from just a few final days of campaigning,1 and it suggests that it would hardly be impossible for other European countries to follow suit.2
1Unless, of course, Swiss voters have a tendency to lie to pollsters on sensitive questions like this, as they seem to in America.
2If they had referendums, that is. Which most of them don’t. But obviously a referendum isn’t the only way to accomplish something like this.