connect, grow & thrive.

The March 7 referendums explained

The upcoming referendums contain controversial topics which have been keeping the press and politicians very occupied these past few months. Surveys show that all three motions are too close to call at this stage.

Ja zum Verhüllungsverbot – yes to the banning of face coverings.

The SVP party launched an initiative calling on face coverings to be banned in all public spaces, public transport, sport stadiums, restaurants, shops or outdoors. The exceptions would be in places of worship, for health purposes (think hygiene masks), for climate reasons (think ski masks) or for local tradition reasons (Fasnacht). There would be no exemption for tourists.

The government feels that this is going too far and has made a counter proposal where people wearing face coverings would have to remove them when asked to identify themselves.

They feel that the initiative goes against a woman’s right to choose what to wear, that in reality only about 30 women in Switzerland who wear complete face coverings would be concerned and that this initiative would harm the tourism industry.

They ask that people vote against this motion.

Bundesgesetzt über elektronische Identifizierung (E-ID-Gesetz) – Federal law on electronic identification

As we shop more and more online, we are constantly being asked to prove our identity. The government has decided to implement an electronic identification which would make it easier and safer for the consumer to use online. It could be used for shopping, to order official documents or to open a bank account online. The E-ID would be voluntary and the government would employ third parties to create the cards and store the information.

The opponents are against third party companies being in charge and control of the Swiss populations E-ID and fear that they could, for example, sell the information. They are asking for the government to be in charge of the producing of the cards and the storing of the information.

The government is asking people to approve the motion.

Wirtschaftspartnerschaftsabkommen mit Indonesien – Economic partnership agreement with Indonesia

Indonesia is the country with the fourth largest population in the world. This initiative would allow bi-lateral agreements between both countries. Currently the duty on products from both countries makes it hard for the two countries to trade with each other.

The opponents to this initiative argue that the trade of palm oil is actively destroying the environment in Indonesia and an agreement with the country would allow cheap palm oil to be imported and cause further damage to the environment. The government counters that there are strict rules in place to make sure that the environment remains protected. The opponents counter that it is near impossible to check whether these restrictions really are being implemented.

The government would like their motion to be approved so as to enter in partnership with Indonesia.

On a local level two motions have been put forward:

Gründung einer Aktiengesellschaft für den Campus Horw – Establishment of a joint stock company for the Horw Campus

The department of technic and architecture at the university Lucerne needs more rooms, as does the department of education. It has been decided that the Campus in Horw will be expanded and new buildings constructed there. The whole project will cost 365 million francs. In order to manage the building and financing of this project the local parliament is pushing for the creation of a non-profit stock corporation. The canton would be a major stakeholder in this corporation.

All political parties with the exception of the SP and the Green party are for this motion to be approved. The opponents fear that this organisation would take the power away from the people to stop costs spiralling out of control.

The local parliament are asking that people vote in favour of this motion.

Ausbau der K 36 durch die Lammschlucht im Entlebuch – Development of the K 36 road through the “Lammschlucht” in Entlebuch.

The canton wants to renovate the road from Schüpfheim to Flühli and Sorenberg through the “Lammschlucht” area. This renovation will take place in three phases. It has already provisionally approved a credit of 26.1 million francs. The first phase should be finished by 2025. The second phase will also be put to a people’s vote. This motion was unanimously approved by the parliament who ask that people also vote in favour of it.

We will share the results of the referendums with you on March 7th.

Charlie Hartmann is the managing director of the Livingin organisation which focuses on helping international residents connect, grow and thrive in Switzerland.