Jura to vote on extending expat political rights

Foreigners may be allowed to become local councillors in the canton of Jura if the population votes in favour of an extension of political rights for expat residents in a referendum on September 28th.

Jura to vote on extending expat political rights
Photo: FutUndBeidel

The proposal, put forward to the cantonal parliament by an alternative left-wing party, says that foreign residents of the Jura should be able to run for elected positions in communal councils in the region, with the exception of the post of Mayor.

Proponents say this change in the law would further the integration of foreign residents into local political life, reports news agency ATS.

To be candidates for political office under the new proposal, foreigners must have lived in Switzerland for ten years and in the Jura for at least one year.

The original proposal has been watered down since it was first put to the cantonal parliament in 2012 in order to obtain as large a consensus as possible.

Foreigners will remain unable to run for mayor of their community or stand for office at cantonal level.

Although foreign residents can vote in cantonal elections, they will not be given the right to participate in any vote relating to constitutional issues.  

The federal government is backing the proposal, saying it would be mad to forbid perfectly integrated foreign residents from using their abilities to help their local community.

The referendum will be the third in 18 years to address an extension to the political rights of foreign residents in the Jura.

The canton is something of a pioneer in the subject, having given foreigners the right to vote in communal and cantonal elections back in 1979.

However progress since then has been slow.

In 1996 and 2007 Jura residents voted on – and rejected – a similar proposal to extend the political rights of foreigners, leaving the region lagging behind other cantons.

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Biden accidentally congratulates Switzerland on joining NATO

NATO's latest expansion momentarily got really interesting with even Switzerland about to join -- at least for a second in a Joe Biden verbal slip Thursday.

Biden accidentally congratulates Switzerland on joining NATO

At a press conference marking the end of the NATO summit in Madrid, the US president recounted the behind-the-scenes talks putting militarily non-aligned Finland and Sweden on track to join the Western alliance in a major rebuff to Russia.

Except he misspoke, saying there was a plan to call the leader of famously neutral Switzerland about joining. Quickly realising his stumble, Biden said: “Switzerland, my goodness.”

“I’m getting really anxious here about expanding NATO,” he joked, before adding for the record: “Sweden.”

Biden, 79, has long been known for his verbal gaffes during a political career spanning half a century.

How much is too much? Understanding Switzerland’s cooperation with NATO

Why isn’t Switzerland in NATO?

NATO, an acronym for the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, was created in 1949 as a response to the militarisation and expansion of the Soviet Union.

Two years earlier, a period known as the Cold War began — a state of conflict between western countries and the Soviet bloc that lasted for more than four decades.

NATO was formed in that geopolitical context to provide collective security against the rising threat posed by the Soviet Union.

Switzerland’s reason for not joining the military alliance at that time or since then was that such a move would be incompatible with the country’s longstanding tradition of neutrality — the same tradition that had kept Switzerland from joining the United Nations until 2002, and is still keeping it from joining the European Union.

EXPLAINED: Why isn’t Switzerland in NATO?

Specifically, what has kept Switzerland from becoming a member is the Article 5 of the NATO treaty — the principal of collective defence, implying that an attack on one member is viewed as an attack on all.

Switzerland’s principle of “armed neutrality” means the country can defend itself against an invasion, but it can’t engage militarily to defend other nations in an armed conflict.