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Rich, Insular, Environmentally Conscious Nation Rejects Plans to Hoard Gold, Limit Immigration and Reduce Other Countries' Population Growth

"Ecopop" deflated...

A board reading in German 'Today Vote' is seen on November 30, 2014 in the old town of Fribourg. The Swiss voted early Sunday in three national referendums, including one calling for dramatic immigration cuts in the name of saving the environment, in polling open for just two hours. Most voters, however, had already cast their ballots by mail, and initial results were expected to be available shortly after polling stations closed at noon. AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI

BERN, Switzerland (AP) — Voters in Switzerland on Sunday rejected plans to protect the country's wealth by investing in gold and drastically limit immigration, according to polling firm gfs.bern.

A board reading in German 'Today Vote' is seen on November 30, 2014 in the old town of Fribourg. The Swiss voted early Sunday in three national referendums, including one calling for dramatic immigration cuts in the name of saving the environment, in polling open for just two hours. Most voters, however, had already cast their ballots by mail, and initial results were expected to be available shortly after polling stations closed at noon. AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI A board reading in German 'Today Vote' is seen on November 30, 2014 in the old town of Fribourg. The Swiss voted early Sunday in three national referendums, including one calling for dramatic immigration cuts in the name of saving the environment, and rejected all three measures. (AFP photo/Fabrice Coffrini)

A proposal to require the Swiss central bank to hold a fifth of its reserves in gold was opposed by 78 percent of voters and supported by 22 percent, projections based on tallies provided by selected voting districts indicated.

The plan would have forced the Swiss National Bank to buy massive amounts of gold within five years and likely causing the global price for the valuable metal to jump.

The proposal to limit immigration to 0.2 percent of Switzerland's population — about 16,000 immigrants a year for a country of 8 million — received the backing of 26 percent of voters, while 74 percent opposed it. Currently, immigration is estimated at around 80,000 a year.

The "Ecopop" initiative would also have forced Switzerland to devote a large chunk of its foreign aid to programs aimed at reducing population growth in poor countries.

Earlier this year, Swiss voters narrowly backed a proposal by the nationalist People's Party to reintroduce quotas for immigrants. The outcome has proved to be a political headache for the Swiss government as it now needs to renegotiate bilateral treaties with the European Union, of which it isn't a member.

A third national referendum, which would have abolished special tax discounts for rich foreigners living in Switzerland, was also defeated, according to gfs.bern. The pollsters predicted 60 percent voted against the measure, while 40 percent were in favor of it.

Official results are expected to be published later Sunday.

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