E-passport ballot too close to call

The likely outcome of a vote on May 17 on the planned introduction of electronic passports remains open.

This content was published on May 6, 2009

An opinion poll by the gfs.berne polling and research institute on behalf of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation found 49 per cent of respondents were in favour of biometric passports.

About 37 per cent said they would vote against, while 14 per cent were still undecided three weeks ahead of the ballot.

The authors of the survey said on Wednesday that the campaign had brought little change and turnout was likely to be below average.

"The main political parties have put a limited amount of funds and efforts into the campaign and the vote is clearly not a main political theme at the moment," said Claude Longchamp.

A broad coalition of the centre-left and rightwing forced a nationwide vote on the issue, saying the new travel document violated citizen's private sphere and that the planned central database with fingerprints was not safe from abuse.

But the government, centre-right political parties and the business community have come out in favour, saying it will ensure travel freedom.

The member states of the European single border area, including Switzerland, agreed to introduce electronic passports by March 2010.

The survey also found that two out three voters are set to approve a proposal for complementary medicine to be covered by the compulsory health insurance scheme.

The poll was conducted among 1,216 citizens across the country at the end of the month. The margin of error is three per cent.

Urs Geiser,
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