SVP demands Swiss border with Italy be closed

SVP demands Swiss border with Italy be closed

The Swiss People’s Party (SVP), the largest political party in Switzerland, will submit a motion calling for the border with Italy to be closed. The party’s president, Marco Chiesa, told NZZ am Sonntag that Italian policy on refugees is to blame for the dramatic pledge.

Free movement across Swiss-Italian border threatened

In an interview with the newspaper, Chiesa announced that the SVP will submit an interpellation demanding the closure of Switzerland’s border with Italy. While the details of the plan are yet to be ironed out, passing such a measure would likely mean the suspension of the Schengen Agreement between the two nations and the return of passports and vehicle import / export checks.

The move follows a pledge by the Italian government in December 2022, stating that they would temporarily stop taking back asylum seekers who had first landed in Italy, something the SVP says is in violation of the Dublin Regulation on migration. In 2022, 105.129 refugees arrived on Italian shores, although many either try to continue their journeys to other European nations or are resettled among signatories of the Dublin Regulation, which both Switzerland and Italy are a part of.

SVP president says Italians are overwhelmed with refugees

“[The] Italians are overwhelmed,” Chiesa noted, adding that the Swiss government should react to what he called a “failure” in the asylum process in the European Union by preventing refugees from crossing the border in their attempts to either transit or gain a residence permit. The party president, who is himself from Canton Ticino, said that “there cannot be open borders with states that do not respect the Dublin treaty."

"If a country that has committed itself to [the Dublin Regulation] does not take the refugees back, we must ensure that the migrants cannot even enter Switzerland," he noted. 20 Minuten added that the SVP is not the first to criticise the migration policy of the new Italian government under Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, with the French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin also accusing Meloni of being "unable to settle the migration problems on which she was elected."

SVP planning immigration summit as Swiss elections loom

Alongside his new border plan, Chiesa announced that his party would be conducting a special congress on July 1 devoted to an “offensive against immigration”. With the federal elections only a few months away, experts predicting that the population will reach 10 million people by 2045, and a poll by Tamedia in April 2023 suggesting that 63 percent of Swiss citizens want there to be less immigration, much like the last election cycle, the SVP is betting that immigration will be one of their vote winners.

Thumb image credit: / Mike Dotta

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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