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Autumn session Parliament to mull over six popular initiatives

Swiss parliament

The initiative to abolish the license fee should spark lively debate in Parliament.

(Keystone)

Throughout the autumn session, which began Monday, Swiss parliamentarians will vote on no less than six popular initiatives. The subjects are varied, from the protection of horned cows to the abolishing of the tv and radio license fee.

Concretely, once a people's initiative is submitted to the Federal Chancellery, Parliament has several roles to fulfill: check the validity of the proposal, publish a recommendation for voters, or (in some cases) come up with a counter-proposal.

Here are the six issues they will debate this session:

1. Initiative on banking secrecy

September 13, House of Representatives

This popular initiative, called “Yes to the protection of the private sphere” was handed in in 2014, and aims to safeguard – in the constitution – secrecy for the clients of Swiss banks.

Secrecy for foreign clients came to an end with the introduction of the automatic exchange of information, in January 2017. Up to now, however, parliamentarians have not been able to agree on it, which is why the initiative is now back on the table.

2. ‘No Billag’

September 14, House of Representatives

The people's initiative, “Yes to the abolishing of radio and television license fees” was filed in 2015, and demands an unconditional end to the license fees paid by Swiss citizens to fund public media.

The initiative represents a challenge to the SBC, of which swissinfo.ch is part. Without the license fee, the national broadcaster would essentially no longer be able to fulfill the public service mandate demanded of it by the government.

3. ‘Break the deadlock!’

September 19-20, House of Representatives

“Break the deadlock! No re-establishment of immigration quotas” is a people's initiative handed in in 2015, demanding the revoking of the constitutional article that puts a brake on immigration into Switzerland.

The constitutional amendment was accepted on February 9, 2014 by a narrow majority of citizens and cantons. Since then, parliamentarians have implemented the article by introducing “preferential treatment” for Swiss citizens in the labour market.

4. Initiative for horned cows

September 21, Senate

The popular initiative “For the dignity of working agricultural animals” was filed in 2016, and wants to ensure that more cows, bulls, and goats keep their horns in the future.

For the initiants, farmers should receive financial compensation from the state in order to allow their animals to keep this dignity. As it stands, most young working animals are treated so that their horns do not grow anymore.

5. Initiative for fair food

September 25, House of Representatives

The popular Initiative “For healthy foodstuffs produced in fair and ecological conditions” was handed in by the Greens in 2015, and demands that social and ecological norms applying to the production of Swiss foodstuffs should also apply to those imported from abroad.

The aim is to align the standards so that food produced in an environmentally-friendly and fair way in Switzerland is not undercut or threatened by cheap imported goods.

6. Safe currency initiative

September 28, Senate

“For a currency safe from crises: money issued only by the central bank!” was handed in in 2015, in a bid to ensure that in future only the Swiss National Bank (SNB) would be authorised to issue money.

This would apply particularly to so-called ‘scriptural money’, which represents about 90% of the mass in circulation. This money would thus become 'real', and consequently safer, supporters hope.


Translated from French by Domhnall O'Sullivan

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