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TODAY IN SWITZERLAND

Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Tuesday

Racial discrimination in Switzerland, alcohol sales at Migros, and other Swiss news right here in our brief daily roundup.

Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Tuesday
Just imagine: he can be all yours. Photo: Pixabay

More racial discrimination cases recorded in Switzerland — but what does this mean?

Last year, 630 cases of discrimination were reported in Switzerland — 58 more than in 2020, according to the Federal Commission Against Racism (CFR).

Most of them occurred in the workplace and in schools, and were directed at black people and Muslims, CFR reported.

However, this number is not an accurate reflection of xenophobia in Switzerland; it just shows that more cases are being reported, according to CFR’s Giulia Reimann, who added that the official figure is just “the tip of the iceberg: we do not know how many cases are not signalled”.

READ MORE: Can an employer in Switzerland ask about an employee’s ethnic background?

Most Swiss don’t want Migros to sell alcohol

As odd as this may sound, 58 percent of Switzerland’s population are opposed to the country’s largest supermarket chain, Migros, selling alcoholic beverages, a new survey of 9,673 people reveals.

The elderly are particularly against this idea. Among those over 65, 67 percent of participants oppose the proposed measure. In the age group of 50 to 64 years, 61 percent are against it.

The least opposed — 48 percent — are those between the ages of 18 and 34.

This being Switzerland, the contentious issue of booze or no booze will be decided by the voters: about 2.3 million members of 10 regional Migros cooperatives can weigh in on this measure from May 16th to June 4th.

Each regional cooperative must decide individually, by a two-thirds majority, whether the stores it governs will sell alcohol. 

This may lead to an outcome where one Migros will sell alcohol but another store in a neighbouring cooperative, will not. 

Migros has said only the right to sell alcohol is up for debate, with cigarettes permanently off the table. 

In fact, while it may seem like a seismic shift, the company has been selling alcohol through a variety of loopholes for decades.

Migros subsidiaries Migrolino and Denner both sell alcohol and cigarettes, while Migros itself currently sells alcohol and tobacco via the internet under the Le Shop banner.

EXPLAINED: The real reason Swiss supermarket Migros doesn’t sell alcohol

Laboratory rats are being put up for adoption

Looking for a new pet with an impeccable pedigree and background in science? Then the Federal Polytechnic Institute of Lausanne (EPFL) has just what you need.

The laboratory rats that the EPFL no longer uses for research purposes are donated to the Swiss Animal Protection (PSA) organisation, which is charged with finding them good adoptive (human) families.

EPFL reports that its rats, which are mainly used in behavioural experiments, are “very good at learning new tasks.”

It does not specify what exactly these tasks are, however.

The world’s tallest wooden residential tower to be built in Switzerland

The 100-metre-high building, which is currently under construction in Winterthur, canton Zurich, is expected to be completed by 2026.

World’s tallest building made of wood. Image:Twitter

The project, called Rocket & Tigerli, will also include three other buildings, in addition to the world’s highest tower.

According to Implenia, the company responsible for the project, the tower, named Rocket, will offer modern, high-quality apartments and, due to its height,  “a unique view”

If you have any questions about life in Switzerland, ideas for articles or news tips for The Local, please get in touch with us at [email protected]

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TODAY IN SWITZERLAND

Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Monday

From a solid approval of all the issues in Sunday's referendum to higher beverage prices: find out what's going on today in Switzerland with The Local's short roundup of the news.

Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Monday

The Swiss say ‘yes’ to three proposals in Sunday’s referendum

Voters in Switzerland have accepted all three of the Federal Council’s proposals, rejecting, at the same time, opponents’ arguments.

The law making organ donation opt out across the country was approved by 60.20 percent, providing more money and staff to controversial EU border protection agency Frontex passed with 71.48 percent, and Lex Netflix – which makes streaming services pay a percentage fee to support Swiss filmmaking – passed with 58.42 percent.

READ MORE: Swiss back ‘Netflix’ law and steer clear of ‘Frontexit’

Read about the reactions in Switzerland to the vote results in our article to be published later today.

Price of beverages is soaring in Switzerland

Another popular product is becoming more expensive: non-alcoholic beverages.

“The price of PET [bottle] is skyrocketing, and with it that of mineral water and soft drinks”, according to a report in 20 Minuten.

“And there is a risk of further price increases.”

For instance, prices per litre of mineral water are now 5 to 10 cents higher, depending on the retailer. 

Of the four major retailers that the newspaper surveyed — Migros, Coop, Aldi and Lidl — only Coop has not yet increased the price of beverages, although its spokesperson conceded the company “cannot currently rule out price adjustments,” due to higher cost of raw materials, the shortage of packaging material, and the increased transport and energy costs.

Beverages have joined a growing list of other everyday products whose prices have increased due to inflation and war in Ukraine.

READ MORE: Seven products that are becoming more expensive in Switzerland

Migros gets tough on “unscrupulous” customers

Due to a growing number of shoplifters, some self-service Migros stores in Zurich are installing special barriers allowing only those who pay for their purchases to exit the store.

Customers who pay at self-checkout terminals must now scan the QR code of their receipt to open a barrier and leave with their purchases.

This is a rather drastic measure, “as Migros and Coop have so far relied on individual responsibility and random checks”, according to Tagblatt newspaper.

Russians critical of the Putin regime want to remain in Switzerland

A number of Russian women in Switzerland, who have criticised the war on social media and are therefore afraid of repercussions from the Kremlin, are asking the Federal Council to grant them asylum.

“I can understand that these women are concerned,” said Ulrich Schmid, Professor of Russian Culture and Society at the University of St. Gallen. “It is possible that the Russian secret service reports on people who are critical of the war”.

Should Russian deserters and opponents of the war get asylum in Switzerland? MPs’ views diverge.

For a Green MP Balthasar Glättli, Switzerland should grant these war objectors humanitarian visas.

However, according to Thomas Aeschi from the Swiss People’s Party (SVP), “Switzerland should treat all asylum seekers equally”, pointing out there are many people in other countries “who are also threatened”.

According to the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM), Russians who remain in Switzerland can apply to their canton of residence to extend their existing residence permit. “It will be checked whether they meet the legal requirements for this”, SEM said.

READ MORE: Reader question: Do Russians now have to leave Switzerland?

If you have any questions about life in Switzerland, ideas for articles or news tips for The Local, please get in touch with us at [email protected]

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