Canton Vaud residents in western Switzerland voted on Sunday against an initiative to give registered foreigners the right to vote on cantonal issues.

"/> Canton Vaud residents in western Switzerland voted on Sunday against an initiative to give registered foreigners the right to vote on cantonal issues.

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ELECTION

‘No’: Foreigners denied right to vote in Vaud

Canton Vaud residents in western Switzerland voted on Sunday against an initiative to give registered foreigners the right to vote on cantonal issues.

The “live and vote here” initiative was rejected by almost 70 percent of cantonal voters. Only 40 percent of the electorate turned out, with 108,765 residents voting “No” and 48,966 “Yes”.

If the initiative had passed, Canton Vaud would have been the first to allow foreigners living in Switzerland for more than 10 years, three of those in Canton Vaud, to be elected to political office as well as offering them full voting rights. 

Since 2003, around 85,000 people fulfilling the Canton Vaud residence requirements have been able to vote on communal level issues and be elected for communal positions.

Supporters of the initiative had said it was unfair that people who had lived in Switzerland for a long time and who paid taxes could not take part in cantonal votes and elections.

On hearing the result, Raphaël Mahaim of the Green Party, who led support for the initative, told Tages Anzeiger newspaper:

“The result is clear. The time was not yet right for the initiative, but I am optimistic that the debate will not stop here.”

Opponents argued that foreigners who wanted to take part in civil activities should become Swiss citizens. 

“Two out of three Vaud residents are not ready to separate political rights on the cantonal level from obtaining Swiss nationality,” head of Vaud cantonal interior office Philippe Leuba told Tribune de Genève newspaper, adding that the vote should not be seen as a rejection of foreigners.

Leuba explained that Vaud is one of the cantons in which it is easiest to obtain a Swiss passport.

A similar foreigner voting rights initiative was proposed on August 4th in Zürich when a petition with nearly 7,000 signatures was delivered to the cantonal government. Similar proposals fell flat in the cantons of Bern and Basel-Stadt last year. 

Foreigners living in the cantons of Geneva, Appenzell Ausserrhoden, Freiburg, Graubünden, Vaud, Jura, Basel-Stadt and Neuenburg may vote in communal, local elections if they are 18 years or older and have been legally registered in one of those cantons for a minimum of eight years. 

Currently, foreigners can vote on a cantonal level only in Neuenburg and Jura.

No foreigner has the right to stand for election in Switzerland.

For members

TRAVEL

What do Switzerland’s foreigners miss most during the pandemic?

New survey reveals which activities members of the international community are looking forward to most when life in Switzerland gets back to normal.

What do Switzerland’s foreigners miss most during the pandemic?
Expats miss travel most of all. Photo by NA FASSBENDER / AFP

Many people experience the so-called “pandemic blues” and foreigners in Switzerland are no different.

In fact, their feelings are often exacerbated by the isolation from their home countries. This is evident from a new survey, carried out by Glocals expat group. 

“On our social network, we perceived a feeling of frustration”, in particular concerning inability to see families, said Nir Ofek, one of the managers of Glocals.

“In this, their needs undoubtedly differ from those of the local population”.

Not surprisingly, the desire to resume travelling is the number one wish of 69 percent of respondents.

“Travel is not only linked to family contacts, but it also symbolises freedom”, Ofek said.

And there is also likely to be a rush on restaurants and bars, the survey found.

Some 43 percent of those surveyed said they will eat out the first week restaurants reopen, while 35 percent plan to do so in the first month.

Of those, 68 percent believe they will be safe there, even indoors, if social distances are maintained.

Overall, foreign respondents are not too optimistic that the pandemic will develop favourably. Sixty-three percent believe that new shutdowns will happen in the future. And 60 percent doubt that Switzerland will be able to vaccinate the majority of the adult population by the end of the summer.

Their outlook on the Swiss management of the pandemic is mixed. Only quarter of those polled rate it positively, a fifth find it poor, while more than half (52 percent) answer “so-so”.

Respondents also shared some of their experiences of living in Switzerland during the pandemic.

On a personal level, vast majority (86 percent) said they have missed social contact, experienced stress (66 percent) and decline in mental (61 percent) or physical (43 percent) health.

A fifth faced concerns about professional stability.

One person said that after she lost her job, “my residence permit expired and I had to leave Switzerland where I had lived for seven years and which had become my home.”

READ MORE: How do the Swiss really feel about foreigners?

What do you miss most about normal life – and what are you looking forward to the most when things return to normal. Get in touch at [email protected]

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