It’s Election Time In Geneva, Switzerland

Switzerland is one of the world’s oldest democracies and a direct democracy.  In a direct democracy, people vote on policy initiatives directly, instead of for a representatives who then vote on policy initiatives (a representative democracy).

Switzerland’s Parliament Building

The practical effect of this is that they vote regularly and on almost everything you can imagine.  It also means that these pop up billboards appear every few months.  He doesn’t like them because late at night, people use them to hide when there is not a readily available bathroom.  He thinks it makes the area smell like a urinal.

Elections will take place on March 11, 2012.  Here are some of the referendums they are putting to a vote:

Wednesday morning primary school for students ages 8 to 12 would be required.  For 4-8 year olds, a so-called “open school” would ensure a home school on a voluntary basis. There would be sporting, cultural or support for struggling students, but not the curriculum so as not creating a gap between students.

Last spring, parents and teachers revolted against the introduction of mandatory Wednesday morning school.  This is a compromise.  Should children have to go to school on Wednesday mornings? Oui or non?

There is an initiative on whether people should be allowed to build second homes.  Arguments for the initiative include: urban sprawl, a rise in housing prices and scarcity for indigenous families, and construction of second homes will still be permitted in areas below the listed ceilings.  Aruguments against the initiative include:  federalism, the threat of the loss of jobs, and that it is excessive.

Another issue that will be up for a vote is tax benefits for home buyers/owners.  Arguments for include: the promotion of home ownership in a country that lags behind others in this category, support to allow renters avoid liquidating their retirement savings to purchase a property, and a component that will encourage greener buildings.   Arguments against the benefits include: the government’s need for the taxes, it is ineffective in promoting home ownership, home ownership is not a measure of economic success, and it will cut other social benefits.

Should workers receive six weeks of vacation a year?   Currently, every worker in Switzerland receives a minimum of four weeks.

There are a lot of posters about a law regulating protests.  The posters for it argue that it will help ensure that protests are peaceful.  The posters against argue that it is an unreasonable limitation on speech/expression.

Finally, there is an initiate for a fixed price agreement for books.

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3 thoughts on “It’s Election Time In Geneva, Switzerland

  1. I admit, I loved being in Geneva during election time, the only country in the world that you can talk about local, federal and international politics and it doesn’t spur any anger, just great debate. Still not sure why Wednesday morning school is an issue, you would think with daycare being a premium that it would be welcome.

  2. Pingback: The Röstigraben | theswisswatchblog

  3. Pingback: The Röstigraben « Living In Geneva

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