1971 Swiss women's suffrage referendum

A referendum on the introduction of women's suffrage was held in Switzerland on 7 February 1971. Only men were allowed to vote and the result was that 65.7% voted for the introduction.[1][2] The outcome was expected, as several cantons had introduced women's suffrage in the years previous, and the Swiss Government and several political parties actively supported women's suffrage.[1] It was the second national referendum after one in 1959, in which men voted against the introduction of women's suffrage.[3]

Background edit

In Switzerland, women's suffrage was demanded in Zurich in 1868, when women also wanted to have a vote in the revision of the cantonal constitution.[1] After the demand was rejected, working women established the Working Women Association which by 1893 repeated the demand for women's suffrage.[1] In 1909 the Swiss Association for Women's Suffrage was established,[1][4] Its aim was for a complete women's suffrage and not only a restricted one in religious or educational matters.[4] In aiming for a national women's suffrage, two attempts were made; a postulate prepared in the National Council (lower chamber of the Swiss Parliament) was presented to the Federal Council in 1919, and in 1929, with the support of the Social Democratic Party of Switzerland and the Swiss Association for Women Suffrage and a petition with over 200,000 signatures also demanded women's suffrage. Both attempts were unsuccessful.[1] The Federal Councillor Heinrich Häberlin eventually left the project of women's suffrage to his successor.[5] After several cantonal referendums on women's suffrage in the 1940s, the outcome was negative, in 1951, the Federal Council reasoned the time was not right for a national referendum on women's suffrage.[6] Following this, surveys regarding women in relation to women's suffrage were undertaken in Basel-Stadt, Geneva and Zurich, in which a vast majority of the women supported women's suffrage.[6] In 1957, the Federal Council revised its doubts on women's suffrage and openly supported it.[7] Eventually a national referendum was held in 1959 which resulted in the men voting against women's suffrage.[8] The Federation of Swiss women against women's suffrage was established by the Committee of Swiss women against women's suffrage.[7] When female teachers of a girls' high school in Basel went on strike due to the outcome, some saw it as evidence that women were not ready for democracy.[9]

1971 referendum edit

In 1968 the United Nations declared the International Year of Human Rights.[5] When in 1968 the Federal Council wanted to sign the European Convention of Human Rights with the exclusion of women's suffrage, women's associations opposed this aim vigorously.[1][10] In March 1969, thousands of women were led by Emilie Lieberherr to the Square in front of the Federal Palace, where they demanded women's suffrage.[11] The Federal Council envisaged a new referendum on women's suffrage; the Federal Councillor Ludwig von Moos even saw women's suffrage as a "democratic requirement".[7]

No campaign edit

The Federation of Swiss women against women's suffrage, through Gertrud Haldimann and Ida Monn-Krieger, still campaigned against suffrage but their allies withdrew their support with time.[7] Also the Catholic conservative politicians began to support women's suffrage.[7] A few days ahead of the referendum, Haldimann took part in a panel in the casino in Wohlen with representatives of several parties and Trudi Gerster, a prominent supporter of women's suffrage and also an elected member of the Grand Council of Basel.[12]

Yes campaign edit

For the yes campaign the Association for Women's Suffrage was a major campaigner.[6] Migros, the country's largest retail company was also a prominent factor in the campaign.[13] The company formed a committee in support of the referendum within the company, printed bags publicising the yes campaign and published articles supportive of it in its company-owned magazine, which with a circulation of over 600,000 was one of the largest in Switzerland at the time.[13] Also Coop, another major retailer of Switzerland supported the yes campaign, but less prominently.[13]

Referendum edit

The referendum took place on 7 February 1971, and the result was that a majority of 65.7% approved women's suffrage.[1] The approval was expected as several cantons had approved women's suffrage in the years before.[1]

Choice Popular vote Cantons
Votes % Full Half Total
For 621,109 65.7 14 3 15.5
Against 323,882 34.3 5 3 6.5
Blank votes 8,600
Invalid votes 1,730
Total 955,321 100 19 6 22
Registered voters/turnout 1,654,708 57.7
Source: Nohlen & Stöver

Aftermath edit

The day after the referendum, a major tabloid of Switzerland, Blick, sported the headline 'Thanks for the Roses' on the front page accompanied with a naked blonde receiving roses from a man.[14][15] Following the referendum, several cantons introduced women's suffrage, but not all.[1] Appenzell Ausserrhoden introduced the cantonal women's suffrage in April 1989, but Appenzell Innerrhoden again rejected it and only introduced it in November 1990, following a ruling from the Federal Court.[1]

References edit

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Frauenstimmrecht in der Schweiz". www.ch.ch (in German). Archived from the original on 2023-01-30. Retrieved 2023-06-04.
  2. ^ "Die Stimme der Frauen". Verantwortung leben (in Swiss High German). Archived from the original on 2023-02-05. Retrieved 2023-06-12.
  3. ^ Gesley, Jenny (2021-04-28). "50 Years of Women's Suffrage in Switzerland | In Custodia Legis". The Library of Congress. Archived from the original on 2023-03-22. Retrieved 2023-06-04.
  4. ^ a b Studer, Brigitte (2021-02-04). "Die Angst vor der Frau: wie Ungleichheit fabriziert wird". Neue Zürcher Zeitung (in Swiss High German). ISSN 0376-6829. Retrieved 2023-06-07.
  5. ^ a b Amliger, Fabienne. "Die Macht der Männer ist die Geduld der Frauen". Bernisches Historisches Museum (in Swiss High German). Archived from the original on 2022-07-07. Retrieved 2023-06-16.
  6. ^ a b c "Vor 150 bis 30 Jahren: Der lange Weg zum Schweizer Frauenstimmrecht". www.sozialarchiv.ch. Archived from the original on 2023-06-08. Retrieved 2023-06-07.
  7. ^ a b c d e Merz, Noëmi Crain (2021-07-16). "Frauen gegen das Frauenstimmrecht". Blog zur Schweizer Geschichte - Schweizerisches Nationalmuseum (in German). Archived from the original on 2023-06-08. Retrieved 2023-06-07.
  8. ^ Meier, Jörg (2019-02-01). "Vor 60 Jahren - Aargauer Männer lehnten das Frauenstimmrecht wuchtig ab – mit absurden Argumenten". Aargauer Zeitung (in German). Archived from the original on 2023-06-08. Retrieved 2023-06-07.
  9. ^ Studer, Brigitte (2021),p.30
  10. ^ Studer, Brigitte (2021),pp. 30–33
  11. ^ "Radio SRF Musikwelle - Archivperle: Emilie Lieberherr beim "Marsch auf Bern"". Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen (SRF) (in German). 2014-10-10. Archived from the original on 2023-06-08. Retrieved 2023-06-07.
  12. ^ "50 Jahre Frauenstimmrecht". bremgarterbezirksanzeiger.ch. Archived from the original on 2023-06-01. Retrieved 2023-06-01.
  13. ^ a b c Rüdiger, Tim (2021-02-06). "50 Jahre Frauenstimmrecht: Der Abstimmungskampf der Migros". Neue Zürcher Zeitung (in Swiss High German). pp. 46–47. ISSN 0376-6829. Retrieved 2023-06-08.
  14. ^ "50 Jahre Frauenstimmrecht - Archivperlen eines Schweizer Heldinnenkampfes". Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen (SRF) (in German). 2021-06-17. Archived from the original on 2023-06-09. Retrieved 2023-06-04.
  15. ^ "50 Jahre Frauenstimmrecht: Blick inszeniert Cover von damals neu". persoenlich.com. Archived from the original on 2023-06-08. Retrieved 2023-06-07.