Covid certificate and boost for nurses have solid support, poll says

The government extended the use of the Covid certificate in mid-September. Swiss citizens appear to support the policy ahead of a nationwide vote at the end of this month. Keystone/Ennio Leanza

The use of the Swiss Covid certificate is likely to be endorsed, as is a proposal to improve working conditions for nurses, according to a new opinion poll ahead of a nationwide vote on November 28.

This content was published on November 17, 2021 - 06:00

The survey published on Wednesday found that amendments to the Covid law – notably the use of the health certificate and financial aid to businesses and people affected by restrictions – still enjoy widespread support.

It's the final survey, commissioned by the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, SWI's parent company. 

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Compared with a similar poll by the leading GfS Bern research institute a month ago, backing for the law remained stable at 61% while opposition rose by 3%.

This might come as a surprise given the vocal campaign of opponents, with street protests and an increasing presence in the Swiss media over the past few weeks.

But not so for Martina Mousson, a political scientist at the GfS Bern institute. “Opinions have largely been made a while ago,” she says.

“The most important factor for a typical voter is whether he or she is vaccinated against Covid.”

Currently about 65% of Swiss residents over the age of 12 have had two vaccines shots.

Mousson says opposition to the health certificate has increased among people critical of the government or of anti-Covid vaccinations, as well as among the grassroots of the right-wing Swiss People’s Party and those without a clear affiliation to a political party.

But they don’t make up a majority, not even taken all together.

Boost participation

“All relevant indicators, including a previous vote, recommendations by political parties and the government as well as polls indicate voters’ approval of the amended Covid law,” she says.

However, Mousson refuses to rule out an upset at the last minute due to the high emotions displayed in the campaign and the unpredictability of the pandemic.

The controversies about alleged discrimination of unvaccinated people and accusations of power-grabbing politics of the government seem to have had a very limited impact on citizens.

“But the presence in the media has helped boost intended participation in the vote,” she says.

The vote on November 28 is the second time this year that the Swiss have the final say on elements of the Covid law approved by parliament. A first ballot in June ended with a clear endorsement for the government.

Political upset

people’s initiative to improve the working conditions and professional status of nurses also looks on course to win a majority of votes.

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The margin between supporters and opponents of the constitutional amendment has shrunk from 63% to 40% over the past four weeks but it could still be enough for the initiative to win the day.

“Approval is a likely outcome,” says GfS Bern co-director Lukas Golder. “The nursing crisis seems to be largely accepted as a fact.”

He says a counter-proposal by parliament to invest up to CHF1 billion ($1.1 billion) to improve vocational training for nurses has won some ground among respondents in the latest poll, but it’s unlikely to be sufficient to tip the balance.


It is a rare event in Switzerland’s system of direct democracy for a people’s initiative to win a majority. In about nine of ten cases such proposals have failed in the 130-year history of initiatives.

Golder also points out that the ‘nurses initiative’ might benefit from the heightened awareness of the importance of the healthcare personnel during the Covid pandemic.

A third proposal on the ballot sheet on November 28 appears to be doomed to flop. A people’s initiative to select the members of the country’s supreme court by lot, rather than in an election by parliament.

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Opponents now have a 9% lead compared with a poll a month ago when they ran neck-and-neck with supporters at around 43% and 42% respectively.

“The trend was to be expected,” says Mousson. “And it doesn’t bode well when an initiative doesn’t have a majority from the outset.”

Polling details

Pollsters interviewed 23,997 Swiss citizens from all language regions across the country and among the expatriate Swiss community for the second of two nationwide surveys.

The survey is based on online responses as well as telephone interviews, both with fixed line and mobile phone users, and was carried out from November 3-11.

The margin of error is 2.8%.

The poll was commissioned by the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC), SWI’s parent company, and carried out by the GfS Bern research institute.

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