Backing for Schengen/Dublin begins to slide

Those in favour are falling in number, while those against are gaining ground

Support for the Schengen/Dublin accords governing closer ties with the European Union on security and asylum issues is on the decline.

This content was published on May 25, 2005 - 21:57

But most Swiss are still in favour of adhering to the treaties, according to a fifth and final poll on the issue. It finds that 55 per cent would vote "yes" if the ballot were held today.

The poll, carried out for the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation by the Bern-based Gfs Institute, also showed that Swiss voters are clearly in favour of a new partnership law for gays and lesbians.

The two issues will be put to the electorate on June 5.

The Schengen agreement permits free movement between signatory states by doing away with systematic checks on individuals at internal borders. The Treaty of Dublin regulates asylum issues between EU states and streamlines the asylum process.

According to the survey, there has been a marked change of sentiment regarding the Schengen/Dublin ballot. At the end of April, 62 per cent were in favour, a figure that has now sunk to 55 per cent.

The figure of those who would vote "no" has risen by 14 percentage points since the previous poll - from 21 to 35 per cent. Ten per cent are still undecided.


"Uncertainty on the issue has quite clearly increased since the previous poll," Claude Longchamp, head of the institute, told swissinfo. This, he commented, had tended to help opponents.

A further factor for the change of mood, Longchamp felt, was a speech earlier this month by Justice and Police Minister Christoph Blocher of the rightwing Swiss People’s Party, which is against Schengen/Dublin.

Blocher recently broke cabinet ranks by declaring his opposition to the accords at a public meeting organised by his party to commemorate the end of the Second World War.

Under the principles of collegiality in the Swiss government, the seven ministers are expected to present a united front once they have agreed a common position.

According to Longchamp, Blocher’s speech influenced the voting intentions of members of his party.

Of the People's Party members questioned in the poll, 88 per cent said they would vote "no" to Schengen/Dublin - up from 62 per cent at the end of April.

Majority disapprove

But according to Wednesday’s new poll, Blocher’s behaviour was "not approved by the majority of voters".

Among the ranks of the centre-right Radical Party, the "no" camp to Schengen/Dublin is also on the rise. While 57 per cent of party members are in favour, the percentage of those against has risen from 25 to 38 per cent.

The trend is much clearer among the centre-left Social Democrats (77 per cent "yes", 13 per cent "no") and the centre-right Christian Democrats (78 per cent for and 14 per cent against).

"The Christian Democratic Party has campaigned strongly in favour of the accord. This result shows that its electorate is listening to what the party is saying," Longchamp said.

He is not surprised about the general increase of negative sentiment, arguing that the opposition always has the better chances to catch up in the end phase of a voting campaign.

"It’s a normal state of affairs," he said. "But whether it will be enough [to win the day] remains open for the time being."

Partnership unnoticed

Amid all the fuss about Schengen/Dublin, the partnership law - which will also be put to the electorate on June 5 – has gone practically unnoticed.

Under the new law, gay couples would be able to register their partnerships, and they would be granted the same rights as heterosexual couples in terms of pensions, insurance and taxation.

"This issue is viewed as being more or less on the sidelines," Longchamp said.

In the poll, there continues to be a two-thirds majority (67 per cent) in favour, with 24 per cent against and nine per cent undecided.

"This is not a sign that there is no real campaign. It simply means that the campaign has not changed opinions."

The only clear change of mood is among the Christian Democrats who at the end of April were fairly balanced, with 47 per cent in favour and 39 per cent against.

Now, 70 per cent would vote "yes", while 22 per cent would reject it. This, according to Longchamp, is a marked change that has been prompted by a clear message from the party leadership.

swissinfo, Christian Raaflaub

Key facts

Schengen/Dublin: 55 per cent "yes", 35 per cent "no", with ten per cent undecided.
Partnership law: 67 per cent "yes", 24 per cent "no", with nine per cent undecided.
Six out of ten people (59 per cent) say they intend to vote.

End of insertion

In brief

The poll was carried out between May 17 and 21 among 1,226 people throughout Switzerland.

It is the fifth and final poll on the Schengen/Dublin issue.

The other vote on June 5 – the partnership law – was included in the poll for only the second time.

End of insertion
In compliance with the JTI standards

In compliance with the JTI standards

More: SWI certified by the Journalism Trust Initiative

You can find an overview of ongoing debates with our journalists here. Please join us!

If you want to start a conversation about a topic raised in this article or want to report factual errors, email us at

Sort by

Change your password

Do you really want to delete your profile?

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Almost finished... We need to confirm your email address. To complete the subscription process, please click the link in the email we just sent you.

Discover our weekly must-reads for free!

Sign up to get our top stories straight into your mailbox.

The SBC Privacy Policy provides additional information on how your data is processed.