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SWISS CITIZENSHIP

Switzerland rejects voting rights for foreigners

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.

A man casts a ballot in the Swiss city of Zurich. Photo: ANDY MUELLER / EQ IMAGES / AFP
A man casts a ballot in the Swiss city of Zurich. Photo: ANDY MUELLER / EQ IMAGES / AFP

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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ZURICH

Zurich approves simplified path to Swiss citizenship

Voters in Switzerland’s most populous canton on Sunday approved a proposal which will make it easier for foreigners to get Swiss citizenship.

Zurich approves simplified path to Swiss citizenship

The vote passed with 69.1 percent support, making it the most popular of the four initiatives put to the polls. 

Around 350,000 foreigners live in Zurich, which is roughly one quarter of the population – although the percentage is as high as 50 percent in some municipalities. 

The successful proposal called for Zurich’s naturalisation process, including the citizenship exam, to be made uniform across all 162 municipalities. 

The questions in the exam will now be centralised on a cantonal level. 

The test will include 350 questions about Swiss history, tradition, politics and culture, with a focus on Zurich. 

Anyone taking the test will be given 50 questions at random and must answer at least 30 correctly to pass. 

More information about the citizenship process in Zurich can be found at the following link. 

EXPLAINED: How Zurich wants to make naturalisation easier

What else was decided on Sunday? 

Voters in Zurich also decided to reject a proposal to lower the voting age to 16, with 64.1 percent saying ‘nein’ to the proposal. 

A proposal to provide for more parental leave – and even up gender imbalances between fathers and mothers – was also rejected. 

Finally, voters supported law changes which sought to enshrine Zurich’s climate change goals in the cantonal constitution. 

A detailed breakdown of the vote can be seen here. 

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