Upcoming referendums explained

The first votation of the year will take place on March 4th, three topics are up for discussion although the one which is causing the most discussion is the No Billag referendum.

No Billag

Unless you have been out of town for the past months, you are sure to have seen the posters referring to “No Billag”, this is the main initiative to be voted on this coming March 4th and is in reference to TV licensing. The initiative calls for TV licensing to be scrapped, furthermore the state should stop supporting any public radio or television service and not have a broadcasting channel of its own in times of peace. The initiative committee is criticising the fact that public channels are given massive subsidies giving them an unfair advantage over private channels. But the government is saying that by subsidising public channels it is making sure that smaller channels and radios are able to exist and  offering a public service.

It may be true that at CHF 451.- per household the radio and television licensing fee seems expensive. This amounts to 1.37 billion francs which is then distributed to the Swiss Radio and Television (1.24 billion francs) and the remaining 61 million francs are distributed to 21 local radios and 13 regional television channels. Without this money there would be no regional news or entertainment. Obviously most artists, journalists and media people are against the end of the licensing fee. To put it in perspective it would be like getting rid of the BBC in the UK.

The government is asking people to vote against this initiative.

This is a hard one to call as lots of people are now getting their information and entertainment via other channels (internet, youtube etc…) so it is not sure that voters will see the value of having a national television or radio service anymore.


New Financing Ruling

The government is asking for the possibility to raise the direct national income tax and VAT until 2035. The current ruling states that the government can only raise these until 2020. But because these taxes make up 2/3 of its income (43.5 billion francs) the government wants the option of raising the taxes to be extended by another 15 years. They are promising that this does not necessarily equate to paying higher taxes, but the possibility will be there should it be deemed necessary.

The government is asking for people to vote in favour of this initiative


Affordable Housing for All

The socialist party is putting this initiative forward asking that the canton sell their lands to towns or non profit real estate developers. They also ask that 11 million francs be put aside every year in order to help build homes to be rented out cheaply. All the other political parties are against this initiative, saying that there are more and more apartments available to rent, that the canton does not own enough land on which to build such properties, that it is up to each commune to decide on their property policies and that in these times of difficulties balancing budgets adding an extra financial burden would be too much.

The government is asking people to vote against this initiative.

We will keep you updated when the results come in.

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