Sunday offered little drama: in Switzerland voters delivered a series of rather unsurprising decisions at the ballot box. They turned down a citizens’ initiative requiring a more sustainable economy by 63.6%. A constitutional initiative to boost old page pensions, a proposal launched by the trade unions, managed to get only 40.6% Yes-Votes. Finally a 65.5 percent majority approved a law, via referendum, to let Swiss intelligence services to monitor private cyberspace.
Turnout for the third round of Swisswide votes this year was about average, at 43 percent of eligible voters. That was a far cry from the Feb 28 vote on the rights of foreigners, which recorded a 64 % participation rate. Across the country, cantons (states) and cities (communes) conducted hundred of popular votes on regulatory, statutory and constitutional changes. In the Canton of Neuchatel, a new law to extend voting rights for non-citizens (Swiss residents without a Swiss passport) did not pass the referendum check: 54% of the voters said „no“ to the possibility of foreigners being elected into the state’s government. Neuchatel was the first jurisdiction worldwide to introduce active votings rights for foreigners back in 1848.
2452 popular votes – in one state
In many other states there were popular votes on tax issues, including Lucerne and Schwyz. In the Canton of Zurich, the country’s most populous state (with 1.5 million people), voters rejected a citizens initiative to raise state money for child-care. According to the statistical office of Zurich, which has listed all popular votes since 1831, this was the 2452th issue decided directly by citizens in 185 years.
In two month’s time, on November 27, the Swiss voters will have their final opportunity of this year to shape the politics of their country, when they are asked about the future of nuclear energy in the heart of Europe. The initiative calls for amending the Constitution to prohibit getting electricity or heat from nuclear power. It also would set times for when the five plants must be shut down.
Article by Bruno Kaufmann, board member of Democracy International and editor-in-chief of the online portal people2power. The article originally was published here.
In cooperation with the hosting partner swissinfo.ch you can check out the September 25 voting results in Switzerland in 10 world languages: English, Arab, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, Russian and Portuguese, see here