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Wednesday, 27 November, 2002, 22:44 GMT
Recount ordered in Swiss asylum vote
Justice Minister Ruth Metzler (l) and Economy Minister Pascal Couchepin
The government was relieved by Sunday's result

The Swiss Government has announced it is beginning an official recount of the votes in last Sunday's referendum on refugees.

The move comes after admissions that some cantons, or provinces, were using scales to measure ballot-slips rather than counting them by hand.

Kurdish asylum-seekers arriving in Europe
Many refugees head for Switzerland overland
It was the closest vote in Swiss history: 50.1% voted against a controversial right-wing proposal to refuse entry to any asylum-seeker who had already passed through a neighbouring safe country whilst 49.9% of voters wanted the law enforced.

This may not be quite as nail-bitingly exciting as the recount of ballot-papers in the US presidential election in Florida, two years ago.

But Switzerland is, nonetheless, determined to uphold its democratic principles.

'Precision count'

When word slipped out that around a third of cantons had used electronic counting methods for voting papers, it was quickly pointed out that only Geneva had official permission to do so.

The right-wing People's Party's initiative to tighten the asylum laws was rejected by a majority of just less than 3,500 votes so the federal authorities said they could take no chances.

Each of the 26 cantons has now been ordered to recount the votes by hand.

It is unlikely the recount will change the end result, however - officials say the votes were weighed with "extremely precise, Swiss-made scales".


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24 Nov 02 | Europe
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