Referendums For Members

Climate, taxes and Covid: What’s at stake in Switzerland's June 18th referendums

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
Climate, taxes and Covid: What’s at stake in Switzerland's June 18th referendums
The Swiss will vote on three issues on June 18th. Photo: AFP

In the first of the three rounds of referendums scheduled to be held in 2023, the Swiss will weigh in on three issues.


These are the three issues on the June 18th ballot:

Covid-19 Act

This act was voted on, and approved by the majority of the population, in November, 2021, when the pandemic was still on-going. 

Even though the last health measures were lifted more than a year ago, voters will have to decide again on various federal provisions  — especially pertaining to border measures in the event of a pandemic, the protection of vulnerable people, and the promotion and development of treatments for the coronavirus.

According to the government, which is urging the ‘yes’ vote, “it is hard to say with any certainty how [the disease] will develop. The possibility that dangerous variants of the virus will emerge again cannot be ruled out."

Given this uncertainty, the parliament has extended the period of the Act’s validity until mid-2024.

However, opponents of the measure — organisations called Friends of the Constitution and  Mass-Voll — are opposing the extension of the law, claiming it would allow the government to arbitrarily re-introduce “discriminatory measures” like the Covid certificate

Climate and Innovation Act

The second issue is related to climate, particularly the target of zero greenhouse gas emissions in Switzerland by 2050, thanks to the government funding of 2 billion francs over 10 years for the replacement of fossil fuels. 

Switzerland imports around three quarters of its energy, which means that all the mineral oil and natural gas consumed in the country come from abroad.

However, the government argues that “these fossil fuels will not be available indefinitely and they place a heavy burden on the climate. In order to reduce environmental pollution and dependence on other countries, the Federal Council and Parliament want to reduce the consumption of oil and gas. At the same time, the aim is to produce more energy in Switzerland."


If the voters approve this bill, Switzerland will aim to become climate neutral by 2050, by financially incentivising the replacement of oil, gas, and electric heating by climate-friendly technologies.

The opponents of the law — The Swiss-German Federation of Property Owners and Swiss People’s Party among them — spoke out against the climate law, claiming that if the government’s proposal will be approved, it would cause a massive increase in electricity needs and, consequently, in electricity prices.

READ ALSO: Are the Swiss finally going to get serious on tackling the climate crisis?


Taxation of international companies

Negotiated by nearly 140 countries around the world, the reform of the tax law aims to establish a minimum rate of 15 percent on international corporations — higher than Switzerland's current tax rate.

However, Switzerland’s has committed itself to comply with this rule.

Even though it would mean Switzerland might lose its edge as a tax-friendly business location, the Federal Council and Parliament want to follow the other countries by implementing this minimum taxation for large international groups of companies (for all other companies, nothing would change).

While the Federal Council is recommending that voters approve this measure, some MPs reject the plan, as most of the revenue would go to just a few cantons, such as Zug and Schwyz,  which offer competitive taxation rates, while other regions will not benefit.

READ ALSO: Why does the canton of Zug have Switzerland's lowest taxes?



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