Vot­ers re­ject 6 weeks of paid va­ca­tion

The Washington Times Daily - - World -

BERN | Swiss cit­i­zens ap­pear to be lead­ing the way on Euro­pean aus­ter­ity, ap­par­ently re­ject­ing a min­i­mum of six weeks of paid va­ca­tion a year.

Swiss polls closed Sun­day on sev­eral na­tional ref­er­en­dums, in­clud­ing one pushed by a union to raise the min­i­mum hol­i­day from four weeks.

An exit poll by Swiss public broad­caster SSR pro­jected that when votes were counted, two-thirds would re­ject the pro­posal.

Known for their work ethic, the Swiss ap­peared to heed warn­ings from gov­ern­ment and busi­ness that more va­ca­tion would put the econ­omy at risk.

As Euro­peans strug­gle to con­trol debt through lay­offs, wage cuts and tax in­creases, cam­paign group Tra­vail.suisse has ar­gued more break time is needed be­cause of work­place stress.

Many other Euro­peans get a min­i­mum of four weeks. “Schen­gen” zone un­less progress is made on pro­tect­ing EU borders from il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion.

The pledge came Sun­day at a bois­ter­ous cam­paign rally as the con­ser­va­tive leader faces what polls sug­gest will be a tough bat­tle for him for re-elec­tion in April and May.

Mr. Sarkozy also pitched an ef­fort to sup­port pur­chases of Euro­pean prod­ucts within the con­ti­nent, call­ing for the cre­ation of a “Buy Euro­pean Act” mod­eled on the U.S. “Buy Amer­i­can Act.”

Most re­cent polls show Mr. Sarkozy would lose by a dou­ble-digit per­cent­age mar­gin against So­cial­ist Fran­cois Hol­lande if, as ex­pected, they qual­ify April 19 for the de­ci­sive, two-can­di­date pres­i­den­tial runoff on May 6. for free elec­tions.

But now af­ter num­bers dwin­dled and di­vi­sions in unity ap­peared at the lat­est rally Satur­day, the more rad­i­cal wings of the protest move­ment against Pres­i­dent-elect Vladimir Putin ap­pear to be split­ting off to fight their own sep­a­rate bat­tles.

Rus­sian na­tion­al­ist lead­ers on Sun­day vowed to stage a “Rus­sian Tahrir Square” — a ref­er­ence to the Cairo square that was the cen­ter of protests that top­pled the Egyp­tian regime — on the May 1 hol­i­day.

They even ap­pear ready for an un­holy al­liance with leftist rad­i­cals at the other end of the spec­trum, who want to stage a “1 mil­lion per­son” protest be­fore Mr. Putin’s in­au­gu­ra­tion on May 7.

“We need to pre­pare the Rus­sian Tahrir on May 1,” said na­tion­al­ist leader Vladimir Bas­manov in a state­ment. “That will be pos­si­ble if the hon­est protest lead­ers agree among them­selves.”

The Rus­sian na­tion­al­ist move­ment — cur­rently built un­der an um­brella group­ing called “Rus­sians” — is stri­dently anti-im­mi­grant and unashamed of shout­ing slo­gans es­pous­ing Slavic supremacy.

Mean­while, the more lib­eral fig­ures who have formed the core of the protest or­ga­ni­za­tion are un­sure about fu­ture strat­egy and openly are ques­tion­ing whether ral­lies are the best way to chal­lenge Mr. Putin.

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