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Support for Switzerland’s urban sprawl initiative falling

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Support for Switzerland’s urban sprawl initiative falling
Switzerland has experienced a construction boom in recent years. File photo: Depositphotos
09:40 CET+01:00
Two new polls suggest the Swiss public will vote no in an upcoming referendum which would see the country put a freeze on the amount of land zoned for construction in a bid to preserve the countryside.

A survey run by Swiss media group Tamedia on January 24th–25th showed just 37 percent were either ‘strongly in favour’ or ‘in favour’ of the initiative. By contrast, 62 percent were either ‘strongly against’ or ‘against’ the initiative.

Read also: Explained - the referendum that aims to save the Swiss countryside

That is a big change on two weeks earlier when the figures were 52 percent in favour and 46 percent.

The Tamedia poll showed support for the initiative was highest among voters for the left-wing Greens and Socialist parties and lowest among voters for the centre-right Christian Democrat (CVP) and Liberals (FDP) parties.

Meanwhile, a second survey by gfS Bern published on Wednesday also showed support for the initiative dropping off steeply.

According to the gfS Bern poll, support for the initiative is now running at 47 percent, down a full 16 percentage points on a month earlier. By contrast, the percentage of people who oppose the initiative has climbed 20 percentage points to 49 percent.

Reasons for the shift in public opinion

Explaining the shift in public opinion, both polls cited voters’ concerns over the fact the urban sprawl initiative could lead to higher rents and property prices while putting a dampener on economic growth.

Also playing a role in making up voters’ minds, according to pollsters, is the fact that Switzerland carried in 2013 revised its planning law in a move that required cantons to submit 15-year development plans to federal authorities for approval.

Many voters appear to believe the existing law will help protect the Swiss countryside.

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