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Have your say: Is it time all foreigners in Switzerland had the right to vote?

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Have your say: Is it time all foreigners in Switzerland had the right to vote?
Photo: AFP
15:02 CEST+02:00
The high number of foreigners in Switzerland means that one in four people do not have the right to vote. Should the right to vote in Switzerland be extended to include foreign citizens? Share your views.

Ahead of the Swiss national election on October 20th, the issue of foreigner voting rights is attracting controversy once more.

The high number of foreigners in Switzerland means that one in four people do not have the right to vote. 

Recently announced moves by the city of Zurich have sought to address this democratic deficit by granting suffrage to foreigners who have lived in the city for two years or more. In Zurich, it is estimated that 47 percent of local inhabitants do not have a Swiss passport. 

Who may vote in Swiss elections? 

Generally speaking only Swiss citizens may vote in elections. Foreigners are required to live in the country for a minimum of ten years before applying for citizenship. 

Foreigners' rights to vote in Switzerland differ significantly depending on the canton. Foreigners in Vaud, Fribourg, Neuchâtel and Jura are allowed to vote and to run for office, while in Geneva foreigners are permitted to vote but cannot be elected. 

Graubunden, Basel-City and Appenzell Ausserrhoden let individual municipalities decide. 

Earlier in 2019, Zurich launched an initiative to allow foreigners to vote at a municipal level. Under the proposal, foreigners who have lived in Zurich for two or more years will be entitled to vote in local elections. Basel is also considering expanding voting rights. 

Voting in Switzerland has been a fraught issue throughout the country's history, due to the requirement that any moves expanding suffrage must take place pursuant to a referendum. Women were not given the right to vote in federal elections until 1971, while women were also restricted from voting in the canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden until 1991. 

Read: The foreigner-sized hole in Swiss democracy

Read: New platform gives foreigners the right to vote

Where efforts have been made to expand the right to foreigners, the electorate have been largely resistant. 

Several proposals to give foreigners the right to vote at a cantonal level have been rejected by more than 70 percent of the electorate. In 2009, 80 percent rejected a proposal to extend voting rights to foreigners in Basel.

Please fill in the following form and let us know how you feel about foreigner voting rights in Switzerland and we will use your views in a future article.

 

 

 
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