The Swiss Times - Swiss News in English

Swiss voting results: Border control, organ donation and more

  • By Paige Baschuk
  • 16 May 2022

The results are in from Switzerland’s weekend vote and the country is in for some changes; but overall, Swiss citizens want to keep things status quo.

Swiss voting results: Border control, organ donation and more

Where the magic happens: The Federal Palace of Switzerland in the country’s capital of Bern.

On Sunday, May 15, Swiss citizens went to the polls to uphold or strike down voter referendum issues – a unique facet of Switzerland’s direct democracy system. Here is how Swiss voters responded to some of the major issues on the ballot:

Switzerland beefs up border control with Frontex 

About 72% of Swiss voters on Sunday support the expansion of Frontex – an EU border control and coast guard agency monitoring migrants and refugees at the Schengen area borders. The vote gives the organization more financial resources to police borders and control migration.

Despite protestors decrying Frontex’s controversial violent and potentially unlawful practices, Swiss voters supported Frontex amid fears of being ostracized from Europe and having to exit the 26-member Schengen passport-free travel zone, experts say. If Switzerland had ended their relationship with Frontex, the federal government would no longer have access to European databases with information on cross-border crimes.

All major political parties in Switzerland supported the move, except for the far left which struggled to collect enough necessary signatures to get the referendum on the ballot.

Swiss voting results: Border control, organ donation and more

Under a new proposal, those who wish to not donate organs will have to register that wish in writing.

Organ donor? Switzerland presumes so

Every Swiss resident will now be considered a presumed organ donor, as the referendum was passed this Sunday with 60% voter support. Swiss doctors will now assume that every deceased patient is in favor of donating their organs to other patients – unless the person has already registered as a “non-organ donor” or if relatives of the patient intervene.

Proponents of switching to presumed consent say the move will save lives; more than 1,400 people in Switzerland are waiting for a vital organ now, according to the Federal Council. Moreover, one or two Swiss residents die each week because they did not receive a new organ in time.

Opponents of the law change say the move undermines the right to self-determination – saying that it is unrealistic that millions of residents will follow through with registering their objections to organ donation. A citizen’s committee has already launched a signature collecting campaign for a referendum on the next vote.

Swiss voting results: Border control, organ donation and more

Zürich city mayor Corine Mauch at a rally earlier this year in support of the identity card.

Zürich to introduce a citywide ID card

Zürich will implement a local identity card to make life easier for expats and undocumented migrants. Barely more than half of Zürich voters (51.6%) supported the move to introduce a “Züri City Card,” which will require 3.2 million CHF to prepare.

About 10,000 people currently living in Zürich do not have residence permits, according to local officials. This creates administrative challenges when using local services such as child care, the postal service, libraries and working with the police. Proponents say the card will solve these problems, but they want it used by all Zürich residents, not just the undocumented ones so as to remove the stigma from being undocumented.

Opponents say the card is illegal and gives officials the impression that migrants are citizens. The Federal Council indicated earlier this year that if such a card is accepted as identity, it is against federal law as one’s right to asylum is a federal decision and not a city matter.

‘Lex Netflix’ will give back to Swiss cinema

Swiss voters also backed the decision to ask global television streaming services to invest their revenue back into domestic films and television. Nearly 60% of voters back the proposal for Netflix, Amazon, Disney+ and others to give back 4% of their 300 million CHF Swiss revenue to Swiss film production.

“This result underlines the cultural importance of film-making in Switzerland,” Swiss Interior Minister Alain Berset said Sunday. Neighboring countries such as France and Italy have already made similar moves.

“We believe that good stories can come from anywhere, and we have already invested in content from Switzerland in the past,” a Netflix spokesperson said after the vote.

Swiss voting results: Border control, organ donation and more

Teens will have to wait until the age of 18 to vote, except in the canton of Glarus.

Teens will have to wait to vote

While 16- and 17-year-olds in canton Glarus have had the right to vote since 2012, teenagers under the age of 18 in the rest of Switzerland will have to wait. Nearly 65% of voters rejected lowering the voting age from 18 to 16 years old. Opponents of the youth suffrage movement say the move undermines the credibility of elections, while proponents say including teens supports the country’s direct democracy.

Will the Swiss e-vote next time?

Not likely, according to the Federal Chancellery, which oversees voting on behalf of the Confederation.

The Swiss Post has been developing a system for many years, but experts say there are still flaws related to the cryptographic protocol which ensures vote secrecy. Moreover, security problems still exist in the e-voting system which makes the system vulnerable to hackers. The Swiss Post is continuing to make improvements to the proposed system and will submit it to another examination before it is brought before the Federal Council.

Opponents say that the security risks are too high, but proponents say such a system could aid certain groups of voters, such as elderly and the homebound join in direct democracy.

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