Switzerland in U.N. within months
GENEVA, Switzerland (CNN) -- Switzerland will join the United Nations as its 190th member within a few months following a victory Sunday for the Yes campaign in the country's referendum on the issue.
Counting was still going on but the Swiss government said the voters backed its call for the country to join the world body, with a majority in the popular vote and across the 20 states and six half states -- called cantons.
Geneva already hosts the U.N.'s European headquarters and other agencies, but opponents had argued that membership would threaten the country's prized independence and neutrality.
The government's position had been backed by most parties, Swiss businessmen and the trades unions.
But opposition led by the charismatic chemicals billionaire Christoph Blocher left the government uncertain until the end of the outcome whether it would carry enough cantons.
In 1986, the last referendum on joining the United Nations, 76 percent of Swiss opposed the idea.
Those seeking to open Switzerland further are expected to renew a campaign for the country to join the European Union, an idea voters rejected last year.
The Swiss, who came down against U.N. membership the last time they were asked in 1986, do not go in for fast-food democracy.
Organising a campaign, getting up a petition and debating the issue in parliament has taken nearly five years. Persuading the nation to seek EU membership would be sure to take even longer.
Its government would like to see Switzerland move towards EU membership. But it won't be rushing that argument.
Persuading their fiercely independent nation that they wouldn't need to lose their neutrality on joining the U.N. was one thing.
Getting such an independent people to concede powers to to the European Union would be much tougher. And the land of the cuckoo clock doesn't do things in a hurry.
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