Changes to the laws around asylum in Switzerland are currently working their way through Switzerland’s parliament. The Swiss Peoples Party (UDC / SVP) does not like some of the changes and has now collected enough signatures to launch a referendum against them.
The controversial changes include free legal assistance and new powers that will allow the Swiss federal government to use federal buildings to house refugees without prior approval from cantons and communes. The changes have been designed to speed up processing and get through 60% of asylum requests in 140 days instead of the roughly 700 days it takes to process an average complex application. The UDC argues that free legal assistance will make Switzerland a more attractive destination. In addition, the party does not like new rules allowing Bern to impose its will on cantons and communes.
UDC representative Martin Baltisser confirmed a report by the NZZ am Sonntag that 67,000 signatures had been collected by the end of December 2015. A minimum of 50,000 are required. The signatures are currently being verified and if this process is completed by 14 January 2015, the Swiss people could get to vote on the matter on 5 June 2016.