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Foreigner voting right initiative is rejected

Canton Vaud residents have turned down a move to give foreign residents the right to vote in cantonal issues.

This content was published on September 4, 2011 - 16:24
swissinfo.ch and agencies

The initiative to “live and vote here” was rejected by 68.9 per cent of cantonal voters, with 31 per cent in favour. Turn-out for the vote was 40 per cent.

If the initiative had passed, canton Vaud would have been the first to endow full cantonal voting rights on foreign residents, as well as the chance to be elected for cantonal senate seats.

The initiative would have applied to foreigners who had lived in the country for more than ten years and three years in canton Vaud. Already since 2003, around 85,000 people fulfilling these requirements have been able to vote on communal level issues and to be elected for communal positions.

Leftwing and centre parties supported the initiative but it was opposed by the right.  

Initiative supporters had said it was unfair that people who had lived in Switzerland for a long time and who paid taxes, could not have their say in cantonal matters. After the result, Green Party politician Raphaël Mahaim said the initiative was “ahead of its time, but I am sure the debate will not stop there”.

Opponents said foreigners wanting to take part in civil activities should become naturalised citizens.

Philippe Leuba, head of the Vaud cantonal interior office, said the vote could not be interpreted as a rejection of foreigners. 

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