The September 23 referendums explained

This Sunday Swiss citizens will have a total of 7 issues to vote on!

The first three are national referendums and are in regard to:

Bundesbeschluss über die Velowege sowie die Fuss- und Wanderwege – Federal decree about bike paths as well as pedestrian and hiking paths.

The government is arguing that Switzerland is a land of cyclist and therefore bike paths should be given the same legal recognition as pedestrian and hiking paths. The government should have the power to support cantons and cities in their effort to improve cycling paths. The majority of parliament voted in favour of this motion and is asking the Swiss population to follow suit.

The next two referendum have to do with food.

The first is the people’s initiative “Für gesunde sowie umweltfreundlich und fair hergestelle lebensmittel (Fair Food Initiative)” – For healthy, ecological and fairly produced foods.

The initiative is calling for the government to promote healthy, ecological and fairly produced foods, both in Switzerland and foods imported from abroad. This should be done with regular inspections as well as making sure that the transport of produced has a lower ecological impact as possible.

The government argues that this initiative is unnecessary as food is already strictly controlled in Switzerland and that it would  be virtually impossible to control food being produced abroad. It is calling for people to vote no on this initiative.


The second food people’s initiative “Für Ernährungssouveränität. Die Landwirtschaft betrifft uns alle” – For food sovereignity. Agriculture affects all of us.

Originally launched by Uniterre, the farmers’ union, who argue that the government’s agriculture policy is all wrong. This policy is too open to international imports of goods instead of focusing on helping local farmers to produce a wider variety of non genetically modified produce. They feel the government should privilege local production of food and ensure that foreign products meet the same stringent requirement of local produce.

The government is calling for this motion to be rejected, arguing that implementing this would make produce more expensive, force people to pay more taxes to pay for the protectionist policy and make the farmers unable to offer competitive prices.


The next 2 issues are on a cantonal level and are:

People’s initiative “Für eine hohe Bildunsqualität im Kanton Luzern” – For higher education quality in the canton of Lucerne.

The initiative calls for the currently good educational system to be protected from any further budget cuts, a teacher’s profession should be made even more attractive, the school fee for the second part of the secondary school be cancelled in order to encourage further education for everyone and that the educational system be protected from any further cuts and restrictions.

The majority of the cantonal parliament rejected this motion arguing that the current system is good and that to apply even more restrictions on it would be too onerous and difficult to put into place.

The second people’s initiative is “Vorwärts mit dem öffentlichen Verkehr” – Forward with public transport.

The initiative calls for a special budget to be created into which the canton would put CHF 60 million a year in order to continuously improve public transport in the canton. Most of the right and central parties rejected the initiative arguing that to create such a budget would mean making cuts in other areas and that today’s concept is already good and has foreseen improvements in public transport. Meanwhile the left-wing parties (SP and Green) argue that several projects had to be shelved because of budget cuts and that this injection of cash into the public transport system is a must and not a luxury.

The majority of the cantonal parliament is calling for people to vote against this initiative.

Finally the city of Luzern is putting forward two motions.

The first one is the “Genereller Entwässerungsplan (GEO)” – General Drainage Plan (part 1)

The drainage system in Luzern is over 220 kilometres long!, in order to keep it in good order, general maintenance work needs to continuously implemented. The city is calling for an initial budget of 36,27 million francs to carry out this work within the next 10 years, which will be financed through a special drainage tax. The city council voted in favour of this motion and is calling for the people to do the same.

The second motion is “Teilrevision des Reglements für eine nachhaltige städtische Energie-, Luftreinhalte- und Klimapolitik (Energiereglement)” -a partial revision of the regulations regarding a sustainable energy, clean air and ecological policy.

This referendum is a counter-proposal to the “sustainable and fair food” (Nov. 2016) initiative which called for the population to be informed on the negative environmental impact of eating meat and calling for people to eat more greens! This partial revision will include a new regulation about “grey energy”, whereupon the city will make it a policy to call for the reduction of this grey energy caused by food products, their production and transport as well as informing people about the influence of food production on the world climate and environment.

The city asks that people vote in favour of this referendum.

We will be sharing the results with you Sunday evening.



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