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Initiative withdrawn  Campaigners to curb child protection services admit defeat

Shelf with books and folders about child protection

Campaigners for the controversial initiative admit they misjudged the public mood. 

(Keystone/Peter Klaunzer)

Campaigners seeking to curb the powers of the child and adult protection authorities have given up collecting signatures for their initiative, admitting they will miss their target. 

A spokesman for the committee said the initiative, launched in May 2018, was short at least 4,000 signatures a week before the deadline to collect the necessary 100,000 runs out. 

Pirmin Schwander, the right-wing parliamentarian behind the initiativeexternal link, admitted that it was difficult to win enough support to force a nationwide vote on the issue. 

Critics have accused the committee notably of acting unprofessionally, delaying the initiative for too long and using contradictory arguments.

However, Schwander said the campaign has been successful in that it prompted the government to launch a working group to look into possible improvements to the current law. 

The people’s initiative, launched by a parliamentarian from the right-wing Swiss People’s Party, wanted to drastically reduce the powers of the cantonal agencies for the protection of children and adults and instead grant wider-ranging autonomy to families. 

Criticism of allegedly heavy-handed agencies began shortly after parliament amended the child protection law in 2013.

Panels consisting of social workers, lawyers and psychologists were set up to replace local authorities in deciding on questions like taking children away from their families or moving elderly people suffering from dementia into homes.

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