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Upcoming Direct Democratic Votes on November 26th

  • By The Swiss Times
  • 13 November 2023
Nidwalden

The electorate in Nidwalden will decide on the “Child Protection Initiative“, which calls for the consent from pupils concerned, or their parents, to be required for medical and health-related measures. This includes measures such as compulsory masks and testing.

Upcoming Direct Democratic Votes on November 26th
‘Who is responsible for the health of children – Parents or the State?
(Screenshot from https://www.kinderschutz-nw.ch)

The initiators justified their request by arguing that parents, not the state, are responsible for children’s health.

Both the government and parliament rejected the initiative. Education Director Res Schmid (SVP) argued that it could not fulfill the expectations it raised. It would have no effect in the case of major events such as pandemics, for example, because federal legislation would then apply.

The adoption of this initiative would affect such things as measures taken against head lice, and the currently-compulsory school medical check-ups in particular.

Similar referendums were also launched in other cantons.

Lucerne

Lucerne voters will decide, among other things, to what extent the road network should be geared towards the needs of private car and truck traffic.

The “Anti-Congestion Initiative” essentially seeks to halt the capacity reduction of the cantonal road network. A counter-proposal, on the other hand, stipulates that the canton should ensure an efficient road network for private and commercial traffic, and that any reduction in capacity should be compensated for in the surrounding road network.

All parliamentary groups in the cantonal council spoke out against the “Anti-Congestion Initiative”. The tenor was that the referendum focused too strongly on cars and was not compatible with other transport and environmental policy principles. The Council therefore opted for a car-friendly counter-proposal.

Urban-compatible town centers

The second popular initiative to be voted on, advocates more attractive town centers. The Green Party’s “Attractive centers” legislative initiative calls for town centers along cantonal and municipal roads to be designed in a way that is compatible with residential areas. They should once again become important meeting places.

In the cantonal parliament, the conservative parliamentary groups and the cantonal government criticized the initiative for interfering with the autonomy of the municipalities. For this reason, the cantonal government submitted a counter-proposal that respected the autonomy of the municipalities. The Council rejected both this and the initiative.

Expansion of Sursee School

Finally, the voters will decide on the expansion of the second-largest cantonal school in Lucerne, the one in Sursee. The cantonal council had approved the special loan of CHF 59.7 million.

With the planned expansion, it should one day be possible to teach 61 classes with 1,200 pupils in Sursee. If the region continues to grow as usual, the expanded school complex should be fully occupied by 2032. Today, around 950 pupils attend school there.

Zug

The voters of the canton of Zug will decide whether taxes should be lowered. In July, the cantonal parliament launched a referendum against the tax law revision.

The reason for the eighth revision of the tax law, which is due to come into force in 2024, is the good financial situation of the Canton of Zug. The 2022 state accounts alone closed with a plus of CHF 332 million, once again a record high.

Among other things, the tax law revision provides for an increase in deductions for childcare and a reduction in wealth tax. In addition, the income tax rate will be adjusted and personal deductions will remain increased indefinitely, as can be seen from the voting text.

The adjustment to wealth tax will double the tax-free amounts for single persons, married couples and registered partnerships as well as per minor child. In addition, all wealth tax rates will be reduced by 15 percent on a linear basis and the rate brackets will be slightly extended.

Personal deductions were increased for a limited period for the 2021-2023 tax periods as an economic measure in connection with the Covid-19 pandemic. Due to the positive experience and the canton’s very good financial situation, this increase is now to be maintained indefinitely. This change will benefit over 80 percent of taxable private individuals – especially those with low and medium incomes, the government writes in the voting message.

The Cantonal Council had approved the amendment to the Tax Act. At the request of the government, the Council decided to hold a referendum of the authorities. The electorate therefore now has the final say on the tax reduction.

Ausserrhoden

The Ausserrhoden electorate will vote on the future municipal structures. The government described the proposal as “one of the most influential votes” since the abolition of the Landsgemeinde.

Two scenarios for the future development of the municipalities in the canton of Appenzell Ausserrhoden are under discussion. The Ausserrhoden government is in favor of the so-called counter-proposal. If this variant is approved, the current 20 municipalities will probably be merged into three to five by 2028.

The contingency bill drafted by the Cantonal Council and supported by the FDP and SVP does not go as far, as it does not contain a specific mandate to reduce the number of municipalities. It merely wants to make such mergers possible.

In contrast to the counter-proposal, in which the canton would implement the structural reforms, the initiative for mergers would have to come from the municipalities themselves. The canton would only provide administrative and financial support to municipalities in the event of mergers.

Voters in Ausserrhoden can vote yes or no to both the counter-proposal and the contingent proposal. They can also indicate which option they prefer if both are accepted. Both options are based on the popular initiative “Strong Ausserrhoden municipalities”, which has since been withdrawn.

©Keystone/SDA

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