Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Swiss Vote to Join World Bank and IMF Opens Door to EC

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Swiss Vote to Join World Bank and IMF Opens Door to EC

Article excerpt

ENCOURAGED by Sunday's vote to join the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, the Swiss government decided yesterday to apply immediately for membership in the European Community.

Swiss voters Sunday approved their country's membership in the World Bank and the IMF by a 55-to-45 percent margin. The vote reflects a newfound desire among Swiss to play a part in international affairs.

The government is still planning to put the EC membership question to the voters in a referendum, perhaps in December.

Some observers caution that a growing desire to become involved in the world does not necessarily mean Switzerland is ready to participate fully in European integration.

"We take {Sunday's vote} as a good sign that the Swiss people no longer have that automatic reflex to say no to all international involvement for our country," says Jens Lundsgaard, a spokesman for the Swiss People's Party in Bern. "But from there to assume that this means people will also favor joining the European Community, I think that jump cannot be made."

The conservative People's Party favored a yes vote in Sunday's referendum, for example, but Mr. Lundsgaard says it would probably oppose EC membership if a vote were held tomorrow.

The World Bank and the IMF "have no direct impact on the people in the street, but the European Community would affect every voter quite directly - in pollution, traffic through the country, immigration, farming, {and} jobs. That," he says, "will cause a much deeper contemplation."

Some opponents of Sunday's referendum are taking heart in the ambivalence expressed in the less-than-landslide result. But most observers say the vote is no fluke but a reflection of an evolution in Swiss thinking about the country's place in the world.

Saying yes to the World Bank and the IMF "is the result of a process going on within Switzerland," says Hans Ith, head of the section on monetary affairs in the Administration of Finance.

"People have realized that their own isolation is not a substitute for becoming involved and doing something," he says. …

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