Four fresh people's initiatives were given the go-ahead Tuesday by the Federal Chancellery to start collecting signatures. The proposals range from animal testing to health insurance and wealth redistribution.
It’s the first stage of a long process, but nevertheless a stage. The four people's initiatives, driven by individuals and interest groups around the country, have been granted until April 23 next to collect the at least 100,000 signatures that would bring their issue to national vote.
The first deals with the debate around animal testing and experimentation, which it wants to ban and replace with more ethical (and less costly) synthetic alternatives. The import and export of any products linked to such testing would also be banned, under the proposal.
“Yes to the banning of human and animal experimentation – yes to research approaches guaranteeing security and progress” comes despite assurances by the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office that Swiss legislation protecting animals is already one of the most comprehensive on the planet.
“Experiments on animals are only allowed if no alternatives are available,” the Swiss news agency reports. The initiators, however, see a lack of transparency.
Insuring a better deal
Two other proposals take aim at the current system of state-coordinated health insurance system in Switzerland.
The first, which officially kicked off its signature collection last week, the day after the annual declaration of the coming year’s premiums (they went up), wants to give Swiss cantons sovereignty to set insurance premiums. If the cantons want it, that is; if they don’t, the initiators say that the current system would remain running in parallel.
The other health insurance initiative, which is spearheaded by many of the same names behind the first (mainly left-wing politicians, and health professionals), wants to halt the practice of parliamentarians sitting on the boards of health insurers.
There are extensive links between business and politicians in Switzerland; the initiators are not against all of them. However, they say, “collusion” prevents progress that would favour insurance policy-holders. “One cannot be both the watcher and the watched, both regulator and regulated, at the same time.”
According to Swiss public radio, RTS, which drew up a tally based on officially registered interests of parliamentarians, between 20 and 30 could be directly affected.
Finally, the Young Socialists group have been given the nod to canvas for their so-called 99% initiative.
They want the 1% of richest Swiss citizens to do more, they say, by paying more tax to relieve the burden weighing on small and medium income-earners. Concretely, this would be done by taxing capital, rather than simply raising income tax: a 150% levy on capital revenue over and above a legally-defined limit.
The organising committee defended the idea with the slogan of “Money doesn’t work. We do.” Six Social Democratic parliamentarians, and one Green, back the initiative.
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