It’s that time of year again when we get to vote on several referendums. The voting will take place Sunday, 24 September so here is a brief summary of what will be voted on. On a national level we will be voting on 3 issues:
Für eine nachhaltige und ressourceneffiziente Wirtschaft (Grüne Wirtschaft) – For a sustainable and efficient economy.
The initiative calls for a greater reduction of use of natural resources arguing that should the rest of the world use as much natural resources as Switzerland does there would be a need for 3 planets Earth. They are basing their argument on findings by the Global Footprint Network, a not for profit organisation. Switzerland mainly uses oil, gas and coal. The initiative calls for cuts to be put into place so that by 2050 the global footprint of Switzerland be greatly reduced. They are calling for this to be done by promoting local produce instead of mass importing products from abroad (such as palm oil and wood). Creating more jobs in the recycling and environment protection industry. Incentivizing people to buy long term instead of buying lots of throw away products.
Whereas the government agrees with the idea of a more resource efficient economy, they argue that the initiative is unrealistic in its expectations. To make it an obligation for the country to reach these goals by 2050 is too harsh. They are also arguing that if only Switzerland makes these implementations then it will be pretty useless as our global impact is much less than that of bigger first world nations. It’s the problem of being the innovator, will others follow suit?
AHVplus: Für eine starke AHV – AHVplus – for a stronger AHV
The initiative calls for the AHV (which is the basic pension every person gets) to be hiked up by 10%, arguing that currently it is too low for people who have low incomes. The government argues that with the baby boomers now nearing retirement age it would be too much to finance. Currently the AHV costs the country 40 billion francs, this would add an extra 4 billion to be funded. They also argue that they already have addressed the issue with the “Altersvorsorge 2020” programme which aims to adjust the AHV to the current costs of living. Consequently they ask that people vote against this.
Bundesgesetz über den Nachrichtendienst (NDB) – Federal law about the news service
This initiative calls for the national news service (NDB) to be given more modern and far reaching ways of gathering information pertaining to possible illegal and terrorist activities in Switzerland and abroad if it affects Switzerland.
Currently the NDB can only gather information which is already public. Due to the speed at which modern technologies evolve and their increased sophistication the NDB needs to be allowed to gather information from wider sources.
The new rules protect the individual’s right to privacy and only information pertaining to illegal acts of terrorism or similar activities will be kept on record.
Those against this motion are arguing that this will be an end to privacy, as the NDB will have the possibility to check emails, Facebook and text messages. They argue that it is an inefficient way of gathering information and that this is the beginning of the end of the Swiss neutrality as we could be passing on information to other countries.
The parliament voted massively in favour of this motion and ask that the people do the same.
On a local level the following two initiatives are being voted on:
Für faire Unternehmenssteuern – For a fair Company Tax
The socialist and green parties are asking that company taxes which had recently been lowered to 1.5% of profits be brought up to 2.25% arguing that companies should do their bit too to help bring money into the canton’s coffers. All of the other parties are against this policy arguing that the taxes were only recently lowered and this was in order to make the canton of Lucerne more attractive to companies. By bringing the taxes up we would lose those companies and potentially jobs. The CHF 10.- million francs which this initiative would bring in are not enough to make a big difference to balance the budget but would seriously affect the image of the canton of Lucerne.
Teilrevision des Reglements über das Bestattungs- und Friedhofwesen – Partial revision of the funeral and cemetery rules and regulations
The town of Lucerne supervises 5 cemeteries. The budget for the upkeep is CHF 3 million per year, the town would like to add an extra CHF 1.6 million to do some much needed renovation work, including in the benediction and funeral service rooms. These should be non denominational but with the possibility of hanging either a Christian symbol or something from another confession.
As usual religious questions makes everyone hot under the collar and several parties argue that as a historically Christian nation we should not have to make any concessions whilst others argue for the freedom of choice.
The parliament has suggested that in the benediction room a Christian cross be kept and in the funeral service room the mural depicting Jesus Christ should remain but both should have the possibility of being covered up.
This is not enough for those opposed to this revision who want a written guarantee that these Christian symbols remain in place.
This seems to be a debate which will speak people’s heart versus their mind. We shall see which comes out on top!@Sylvia Stam