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Switzerland rejects voting rights for foreigners

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Switzerland rejects voting rights for foreigners
A man casts a ballot in the Swiss city of Zurich. Photo: ANDY MUELLER / EQ IMAGES / AFP

Foreigners resident in Switzerland will not be allowed to vote, after the State Political Commission of the National Council (SPK-N) rejected a proposal to introduce the measure.


Switzerland’s Greens had lodged a proposal to provide foreigners resident in Switzerland for five years with rights to vote and to be elected at a federal level. 

Despite support from Switzerland’s Social Democrats, the measure was rejected by 17 votes to 8 in the SPK-N. 

Those opposed to the measure said no change was necessary, with anyone wanting to gain voting rights free to apply for naturalisation, Swiss news outlet Watson reports. 

According to procedure of the State Political Commission, Switzerland’s National Council will now decide on the matter, however prospects of success are limited due to the rejection. 

READ MORE: The nine most surprising questions on Switzerland’s citizenship exam

Despite approximately 25 percent of Swiss residents being foreigners, Switzerland restricts voting at a federal level to citizens only. 


Switzerland also has one of the most restrictive frameworks for gaining citizenship in the world, with third-generation foreigners often refused naturalisation. 

Some cantons grant foreigners rights to vote at a cantonal and municipal level, however this is relatively rare. 

The Commission said that as there had been no general trend among the cantons in awarding voting rights to non-citizens, it should remain a question of the cantons rather than allowing foreigners to vote at a federal level all across the country. 

READ MORE: Why your Swiss citizenship application might be rejected – and how to avoid it


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