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Thirteen national referendums were held in Switzerland during 2016.

Contents

February referendumsEdit

On 28 February 2016, referendums were held on four initiatives:[1]

  1. Popular initiative of 5 November 2012 "For the couple and the family - No to the penalty of marriage", proposed by the Christian Democrats. It would have prohibited discrimination in taxes for married couples (who pay more in certain circumstances) compared to other cohabiting couples, but it would also have added the definition of marriage being "the union of a man and a woman".[2] Opposition to the initiative was mainly because it would make opening marriage to same-sex couples no longer possible under the constitution.[3][4] (The referendum on this initiative was invalidated in a 10 April 2019 decision of the Federal Supreme Court, which ordered a re-vote.)[5]
  2. Popular initiative of 28 December 2012 "For the effective expulsion of foreign criminals", proposed by the Swiss People's Party which claimed it would provide full implementation of an initiative approved in a November 2010 referendum.[6] Foreigners who commit a crime would be automatically expelled from the country, regardless of the severity of the crime.
  3. Popular initiative of 24 March 2014 "No speculation on food", proposed by the Young Socialists.[7]
  4. Modification of 26 September 2014 of the federal law on road transit in the Alpine region (Reconstruction of the Gotthard road tunnel). It allowed building a second road tunnel in order for the current tunnel to be reconstructed.[8] This government plan was challenged to a referendum by opposition groups who fear the four lanes would eventually be used, increasing traffic, and who considered it too costly.[8]

The government recommended the rejection of all three popular initiatives, but recommended approval of the amendments to the federal law on road transit in the Alpine region. The vote results followed these recommendations, with higher voter turnout than usual.

ResultsEdit

Question For Against Invalid/
blank
Total
votes
Registered
voters
Turnout Cantons for Cantons against Result
Votes % Votes % Full Half Full Half
For the couple and the family 1,609,152 49.2 1,664,224 50.8 80,643 3,354,019 5,302,797 63.2 15 3 5 3 Rejected
Expulsion of foreign criminals 1,375,098 41.1 1,966,965 58.9 37,504 3,379,567 63.7 3 3 17 3 Rejected
No speculation on food 1,287,786 40.1 1,925,937 59.9 122,455 3,336,178 62.9 1 1 19 5 Rejected
Gotthard road tunnel reconstruction 1,883,859 57.0 1,420,390 43.0 61,319 3,365,568 63.5 Accepted
Source: Government of Switzerland 1, 2, 3, 4

June referendumsEdit

Five propositions were on the ballot for the 5 June 2016 referendum:[9]

  1. A popular initiative for a basic income.[10]
  2. A popular initiative for fair transport financing. According to this initiative, revenue from fuel tax would have been used exclusively for road construction.[11]
  3. A popular initiative for public service. Launched by four news and consumer rights magazines, this initiative sought to improve public services by mandating that the government not set any profitmaking goals for public services, that any profits not fund the overall budget, and that public service directors would not earn more than the corresponding government minister.[12]
  4. A referendum on amendments to the medically assisted reproduction law.[13]
  5. A referendum on amendments to the federal asylum law.[14]

All three popular initiatives were rejected, whilst the two legislative amendments were approved. The voters thus again followed the recommendations of the government.

Medically assisted reproductionEdit

The law establishes that all embryos conceived in a test tube can be examined using all the genetic techniques available, and then selected. In this way, embryos with Down syndrome (trisomy 21) can be destroyed before implantation.[13]

Asylum lawEdit

The new law provided free legal advice and representation for all asylum seekers, and speeding-up procedures for granting or refusing asylum. It also established new federal reception centers run by the federal government and staffed by federal officials where most asylum seekers would be accommodated.[14]

Basic income referendumEdit

 
In 2013, eight million 5-cent coins (one per inhabitant) were dumped on the Bundesplatz to support the popular initiative for a basic income.

The discussion about basic income in Switzerland began in the 1980s, initially amongst academics such as sociologists who saw the potential to alleviate poverty better than the current system. But there was no major public debate in the 1980s nor the 1990s. In the early 2000s, however, things were slowly changing due to a spill-over from the German debate. Two basic income organizations were formed, "Initiative Grundeinkommen" and BIEN-Switzerland, and one ATTAC-group also became advocates. These organizations had some success, including some articles in national newspapers.[15] The petition calling for a referendum on basic income as a constitutional right was started in April 2012. After six months 42,000 people had signed, and by April 2013 there were approximately 70,000 signatures.[16] By October 2013 more than 130,000 citizens had signed, meaning a referendum on the issue had to be held. Publicity included a truck filled with eight million coins emptying the money in front of the Federal Palace in Bern.[17] Even though the initiative's official text submitted to the vote did not specify any level, the campaigners proposed 2,500 Swiss francs for adults (about 1,650 USD at PPP in 2014) and 625 francs for children per month.[17][18][19]

ResultsEdit

Question For Against Invalid/
blank
Total
votes
Registered
voters
Turnout Cantons for Cantons against Result
Votes % Votes % Full Half Full Half
Basic income 568,660 23.1 1,897,528 76.9 28,660 2,494,848 5,313,442 46.95 0 0 20 6 Rejected
For fair transport financing 709,974 29.2 1,719,661 70.8 55,749 2,485,384 46.78 0 0 20 6 Rejected
For public services 784,303 32.4 1,637,707 67.6 62,997 2,485,007 46.77 0 0 20 6 Rejected
Amendments to the medically assisted reproduction law 1,490,417 62.4 897,318 37.6 92,610 2,480,345 46.68 Approved
Amendments to the federal asylum law 1,616,597 66.8 804,086 33.2 65,349 2,486,032 46.79 Approved
Source: Government of Switzerland 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

September referendumsEdit

Three referendums were held on 25 September 2016; a popular initiative for a green economy (launched by the Green Party of Switzerland), a popular initiative concerning the retirement system and a referendum on the federal law on intelligence.[20] Both of the popular initiatives were rejected, whilst the federal intelligence law was approved.

ResultsEdit

Question For Against Invalid/
blank
Total
votes
Registered
voters
Turnout Cantons for Cantons against Result
Votes % Votes % Full Half Full Half
Green economy 819,770 36.4 1,430,273 63.6 41,427 2,291,470 5,329,183 43.0 1 0 19 6 Rejected
Retirement system 921,375 40.6 1,348,032 59.4 29,085 2,298,492 43.1 5 0 15 6 Rejected
Federal intelligence law 1,459,068 65.5 768,065 34.5 61,416 2,288,549 42.9 Approved
Source: Government of Switzerland 1, 2, 3

November referendumEdit

The 27 November referendum had only one question, a federal popular initiative "for the programmed phase-out of nuclear energy" (against nuclear power plants).[21] The initiative dated from 2012, about one year after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan. It was rejected by voters.[22]

Question For Against Invalid/
blank
Total
votes
Registered
voters
Turnout Cantons for Cantons against Result
Votes % Votes % Full Half Full Half
Nuclear energy phase-out 1,099,409 45.8 1,300,860 54.2 21,729 2,421,998 5,336,711 45.4 4 2 16 4 Rejected
Source: Government of Switzerland

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Abstimmungsvorlagen für den 28. Februar 2016, admin.ch
  2. ^ Fenazzi, Sonia (2016-01-06). "Tax initiative in hot water over marriage definition - SWI". Swissinfo.ch. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
  3. ^ JCVP Kanton Zürich: Nein zur Ehedefinition Archived 2015-11-25 at the Wayback Machine, 6. November 2015, queer.ch
  4. ^ (in French) Le PDC genevois ne défendra pas son initiative, Le Courrier, retrieved on 28 February 2016
  5. ^ "Swiss court orders historic referendum re-run". BBC News. 10 April 2019. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
  6. ^ Raaflaub, Christian (2016-01-06). "Deportation initiative back before voters - SWI". Swissinfo.ch. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
  7. ^ Pauchard, Olivier (2016-01-06). "Bid to end financial speculation on foodstuffs - SWI". Swissinfo.ch. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
  8. ^ a b Jorio, Luigi (2016-01-06). "Opposing views on doubling the Gotthard tunnel - SWI". Swissinfo.ch. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
  9. ^ Abstimmungsvorlagen für den 5. Juni 2016 Government of Switzerland
  10. ^ Geiser, Urs (April 29, 2016). "Poll Finds Basic Income Proposal Doomed to Fail". Swissinfo. Retrieved 4 May 2016.
  11. ^ Siegenthaler, Peter (April 26, 2016). "Are Motorists the Cash Cows of Switzerland?". Swissinfo. Retrieved 4 May 2016.
  12. ^ Pauchard, Olivier (April 26, 2016). "Public Services In Voter Spotlight". Swissinfo. Retrieved 4 May 2016.
  13. ^ a b Miserez, Marc-André (April 14, 2016). "Swiss Vote Again On Genetic Screening". Swissinfo. Retrieved 4 May 2016.
  14. ^ a b Mombelli, Armando (April 26, 2016). "Political Right Tries to Block Asylum Reform". Swissinfo. Retrieved 4 May 2016.
  15. ^ The Basic Income Debate in Switzerland: Experiences and a Republican Perspective Basic Income
  16. ^ Swiss parliament may soon debate unconditional basic income Archived 2014-10-24 at the Wayback Machine NNA, 30 April 2013
  17. ^ a b Swiss to vote on incomes for all - working or not BBC News, 18 December 2013
  18. ^ PPP conversion factor, private consumption (LCU per international $) World Bank, International Comparison Program database
  19. ^ Swiss to vote on guaranteed income for all The Local, 27 January 2016
  20. ^ "Abstimmungsvorlagen für den 25. September 2016". admin.ch. Retrieved 11 June 2016.
  21. ^ "Volksinitiative "Für den geordneten Ausstieg aus der Atomenergie (Atomausstiegsinitiative)"". admin.ch. Retrieved October 8, 2016.
  22. ^ "Vote Results: Nuclear Power Initiative". Swissinfo. November 27, 2016. Retrieved November 30, 2016.