Why did people vote against the deportation initiative? Are they tired of the SVP pushing this issue?
The short answer: The SVP was beaten at their own game.
The usual way immigration issues are debated in Switzerland is as follows: The SVP manages to provoke, exaggerate and create some hysteria. This time around, however, the anti-SVP campaign did just that in the last few weeks of the campaign by focusing their message and, yes, spreading effective misinformation.
To some of you who posted in this thread, please don't take this the wrong way. I appreciate all of your input on Switzerland-related affairs as I don't have a lot of the time to post here but part of that effective spread of misinformation by the no-campaign has become visible in this very thread. The main reason for this, of course, is that foreign journalists don't normally know a lot about Switzerland. I can't blame them. We have a weird political system and just aren't that important on a global level.
The notion, for instance, that foreigners would have been deported for mere speeding has no basis in fact whatsoever. The text of the initiative stated that a person could only be deported if he/she were handed down a verdict by a court. Clearly, speeding tickets and similar negligible offences would not have been dealt with in court. Also, to be deported for something minor a foreigner would have had to commit repeated offences (at least twice). Shortly, the idea that huge numbers of people would have been deported for petty misdemeanour is factually incorrect.
Another reason why the initiative failed, and perhaps the most important one, is that the SVP wanted to establish a mechanism of "automatic deportation". If a foreigner had committed (a) certain offence(s), the judge in question would have had to deport him/her upon handing down a verdict without the option of taking into consideration the defendant's individual situation. So even if a foreigner had spent all of his/her life in Switzerland and lacked ties to his/her country of origin, he/she would have been deported. Many considered this a fundamental change of our legal system and a severe infringement of the separation of powers and therefore opposed the initiative.
Finally, tough deportation laws are going to take effect this year anyway as the majority of Swiss citizens approved a constitutional clause on that front in 2010 and granted parliament a time frame of five years to pass such legislation.