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People power in action Pesticide and online gambling bans to go to vote

Dice on a Rocket 7 table at the Zurich casino

Swiss casinos fear they would loose millions in gambling revenue if opponents of a legal amendment win the referendum 


Voters are likely to have the final say on a parliamentary decision to ban online gambling in casinos outside Switzerland as well as an initiative aimed at banning subsidies for farmers who use pesticides.

Citizens committees and political groups handed in the necessary signatures for their respective proposals on Thursday. The signatures will have to be validated by the federal authorities before the government sets a date for the ballots.

Several groups from the political right and left and the internet industry submitted about 60,000 signatures, 10,000 more than required, to challenge a decision by parliament taken last year.

“Most people we talked to during our campaign in all different parts of the country don’t want state interference in legal online offer. And they don’t want protectionism for domestic casinos,” said Andri Silberschmidt of the Young Liberals.

Freedom and prevention

The youth chapter of the Young Greens argues that the law restricts the free use of the internet but also lacks sufficient prevention to help people addicted to gambling.

The Swiss betting, lottery and casino operators supporting the legal amendment have accused the critics of relying on financial support from foreign online casinos to collect enough signatures for the referendum.

Failure to block internet access to online money games would lead to millions of francs being spent outside Switzerland, the operators warned.

 + Read about the parliamentary debate on the casino law

Meanwhile, an alliance of environmental organisations, organic farmers and animal rights groups supported by the Green Party, has submitted 114,420 signatures for its people’s initiative, demanding that farmers who use antibiotics for preventive purposes or synthetic pesticides be excluded from government subsidies.

+ Could Switzerland lead the way to more sustainable farming?

The proposal faces strong opposition by the country’s main farmers organisation and the chemistry, pharma and biotech industry.

It is the latest in series of political moves to boost sustainable farming, healthy food health and food security in Switzerland.

Direct democracy

It has been a busy week for direct democracy in Switzerland.

On Tuesday, the Swiss People Party officially began collecting signatures for a proposal to scrap a major labour agreement with the European Union. The rightwing party has 18 months to collect the necessary signatures to force a nationwide vote on the issue.

Observers say the initiative is a campaign tool for the party ahead of next year’s parliamentary elections.

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