A survey commissioned by Deutsche Welle has found the majority of German citizens would vote for limiting immigration. The survey follows a decision in Switzerland to limit its annual immigration from the EU.
If Germans were to vote in a referendum on limiting immigration to Germany nearly half would support the measure (48 percent ) while almost as many (46 percent) would oppose it, according to a DW commissioned survey.
On behalf of DW, opinion research institute infratest dimap surveyed 1,001 Germans over the age of 18 on February 11-12, 2014. Three percent of those surveyed were undecided.
The survey showed that a particularly high number of Eurosceptic Alternative for Germany (AfD) party members (84 percent) would support an immigration limit.
Members of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats and its sister party the Christian Social Union voted 51 percent for a limit.
Especially low approval for such a move came from members of the left-wing Alliance 90/The Greens party with only 29 percent supporting a limit.
A difference of opinions could also be seen between the eastern and western sides of Germany with 45 percent of citizens in the west showing support compared to 56 percent of citizens in the east.
Germany to follow Switzerland?
The survey comes on the heels of a controversial Swiss referendum vote on Sunday that saw the country approve limiting its annual immigration from the European Union.
The conservative-nationalist Swiss People's Party (SVP), Switzerland's most powerful single party, put forward the motion, but was the only member of the country's four-party ruling coalition to endorse its bill.
The proposal did not specify the potential level for a cap, nor who it might apply to. By Swiss law, parliamentarians have three years to introduce the changes.
Landlocked Switzerland is not a member of the EU, however, it is part of both the European Free Trade Area (EFTA) and the open-border Schengen Area.
Business leaders in Switzerland had openly opposed initiative, saying the buoyant economy could support a larger workforce.
Sunday's "yes" vote also garnered criticism from EU members. On Monday, Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said that Germany respected the result of Switzerland's vote but added, it "raises considerable problems.”
The European Commission said in a statement released after the referendum that it regretted the decision, and would "analyze the consequences of this initiative to our relations in general."
Around 8 million people live in Switzerland with 25 percent of inhabitants hailing from other countries. The country's German community , numbering around 300,000, is the third-largest after the Swiss themselves and Italians. Similarly, 430,000 Swiss live and work elsewhere in the EU.