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The June 13. referendums explained

On Sunday June 13. 2021, 5 national initiatives and 2 local initiatives are being put to vote. We explain what they are about.

Volksinitiative: “Für sauberes Trinkwasser und gesunde Nahrung – Keine Subventionen für den Pestizid- und den prophylaktischen Antibiotika-Einsatz” – “For clean drinking water and healthy food – No subsidies for the use of pesticides and prophylactic antibiotics”.

This people’s initiative is asking that the government which gives subsidies to farmers should only be able to do so if the farm in question ceases to use pesticides, does not give antibiotics unless necessary and only keeps the number of animals it can actually produce food for on the farm. This would reduce the amount of animal waste produced which gets sprayed all over the countryside and then leaks into the water that is then used as tap water.

The government is countering that the tap water is well protected and drinkable. They already heavily encourage farmers to produce food and meal in a more environmentally friendly way; this is one of the rules upon which the attribution of subsidies is decided. By enforcing this new rule, the risk is that some farmers will be forced to close which would mean that more produce would need to be imported (and not necessarily be any environmentally friendlier) or that other farmers may turn their back on subsidies so as not to have to comply with these rules. Currently close to 3 billion francs are given out to farmers as subsidies.

Volksinitiative “Für eine Schweiz ohne synthetische Pestizide” – “For a Switzerland without synthetic pesticides”.

The initiative demands a ban on synthetic pesticides in agriculture. The environment, animals and plants suffer enormously from the use of synthetic pesticides. It has been scientifically proven that pesticides are harmful to human health even in the smallest concentrations. These products should no longer be allowed to be used in Switzerland. In addition, the bill includes an import ban on food produced with the help of synthetic pesticides. The bans are to come into force no later than ten years after the popular initiative is adopted.

The proponents argue that this initiative would strengthen an ecological agriculture by banning synthetic pesticides to both domestic and imported products. It would also give research a boost to develop sustainable innovations for agriculture.

The governments is urging people to vote against this initiative arguing that it already has set strict rules for the use of pesticides; it also provides financial support for research and the development of alternatives. The ban poses the risk that plants and agricultural products can no longer be protected from bacteria, viruses, etc., and it would limit the supply and diversity of food. The ban would violate existing international trade agreements

Referendum: Covid-19-Gesetz – The Covid-19 Act

With the Covid 19 Act, people and businesses affected by the Corona crisis, as well as culture, sport and the media, can be financially supported during the pandemic. Because the Epidemics Act did not provide the legal basis for all measures, the Federal Council had to rely on an emergency ruling, as foreseen by the constitution for such crisis situations. However, such emergency law is limited to 6 months. In order to be able to continue the measures, the Federal Council and Parliament drafted the Covid 19 Act in September 2020 and it is now being put to a democratic vote.

If the law were rejected, it would expire on 25 September 2021, one year after it was passed. From that date, there would no longer be a legal basis for the economic support services to cope with the crisis, and a situation of great uncertainty could arise as to what happens next.

The government and parliament are asking people to vote in favour of this referendum in order to continue to support the national economy.

Referendum CO2 – Gesetz – CO2 Act

Switzerland has agreed to reduce its CO2 emissions by 50% until 2030. In order for this to happen the CO2 Act needs to be amended. A reward system will be put into place to financially support people and companies who make an effort to lower their CO2 consumption. They will receive aid when improving the insulation of their homes or using more energy efficient transport, for example more money will be invested in electric car charging stations . However the price of driving petrol or diesel cars will go up, as will flying and heating homes with oil. Without these changes it will be very difficult for Switzerland to meet its 2030 target, which is why the government is asking people to vote in favour of this motion.

Bundesgesetz über polizeiliche Massnahmen zur Bekämpfung von Terrorismus (PMT) Federal Law on Police Measures to Combat Terrorism (PMT).

The Terrorism Act aims to provide the police with the necessary means to combat and prevent terrorist attacks. The new legal provisions allow the police to intervene earlier and preemptively if there are concrete and current indications that a person poses a terrorist threat. In the case of “concrete indications of the exercise of terrorist activity”, the law foresees, for example, a duty to participate in talks, a duty to report to the police station, bans on contact with radicalised groups, bans on leaving the country, exclusions and house arrest for persons over the age of 12.

Each measure is tailored to the individual case. In principle, milder measures such as employment programmes or psychological support take precedence.

According to the opponents the measures in the law, except for house arrest, are not ordered by a court, but by the police on mere suspicion. This undermines the principle of separation of powers.

The government and parliament recommend that people vote in favour of the motion.

Still here? Well done for not having given up on reading. 🙂 Not onto our local referendums. In the city of Lucerne two motions are put up for voting and both of them have counter proposals.

Reglement über private Fahrzeugabstellplätze (Parkplatzreglement) – Regulations on private vehicle parking spaces (parking regulations)

Parking is one of the main issues of living in Lucerne and the city council has decided to tackle it head on with new strict measures; counter measures are being offered and it really is a question of which one is the less of two evils for car owners. One of the main differences is whether the city council should be allowed to make decisions such as hiking parking fees up or city zoning for parking or whether the local parliament should continue to have a say in the matter. Prices for a parking space in the city will go up regardless, the city council wants to charge up to CHF 105.- per month versus CHF 80.- for the counter proposal. The number of parking spaces allowed to be built in new building will also shrink to less than 1 per lodging. In summary the city’s council suggestion are more extreme than the counter offer. If you really are interested in the fine details then I recommend a deep dive in the town’s council suggestions and the compromise solution.

We will share the results of Sunday’s voting with you.

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