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Swiss immigration cap narrowly approved

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ZURICH, Switzerland, Feb. 9 (UPI) -- Swiss voters Sunday narrowly approved proposals to reimpose restrictions on the number of foreigners in the country.

The New York Times said the proposals passed with 50.3 percent, and 56 percent of eligible voters cast ballots. Small cities and rural areas provided the most support.

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The vote could have far-reaching implications for Switzerland's relations with the European Union, which allows freedom of movement within the EU. Switzerland is not part of the EU, but has one of the highest proportions of foreigners in Europe -- 27 percent of the country's population, or 8 million people.

The country also has a treaty with the EU which may have to be renogiated.

The controversial measure places annual limits on the number of immigrants moving to Switzerland, which has become an attractive destination because of its healthy economy.

Critics of the measure said Switzerland relied on a steady supply of skilled immigrant labor, but many voters indicated before the election they were concerned with overcrowding and strains on transportation and housing.

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