Public attitudes to migrants in Europe continue to shock. The latest example is a Swiss referendum to impose quotas on migrant numbers. The anti-migrant coalition won the vote 50.34 per cent to 49.66 per cent, with turnout of 56 per cent.
To me, the most interesting thing was this map, showing how the country voted. The green shows the ‘yes’ vote to quotas, something supported by anti-migrant groups:
This shows a pretty decent split in the country, with the French part of the country opposing the vote and the German part mostly agreeing with quotas. Perhaps in a sign of the times, both the government and business leaders opposed the vote, yet it succeed despite this.
Further, those voting against quotas are generally from areas with higher migrant populations. This supports academic research showing attitudes and bias against migrants are mitigated by interaction with migrants.
Unfortunately this may become the norm in Europe this year. The election for the European Parliament in particular is shaping up as a proxy for attitudes on immigration, with many anti-migrant nationalist parties registering growing approval in the polls. This raises very complex policy questions about how public opinion, increasingly anti-migrant, meshes with more liberal attitudes of political and industrial leaders.