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Leuenberger hits out at polling firm

Cabinet minister Moritz Leuenberger has issued a sharp rebuke to a leading polling firm over its research leading up to Switzerland’s referendum on minarets.

Leuenberger, the minister responsible for media and communications, called the results of surveys conducted by the firm gfs.bern “politically grave” during Monday’s parliamentary question hour.

gfs.bern, a respected firm, had predicted that a 53 per cent majority of people would vote against the referendum to ban the construction of new minarets on mosques. On November 29, 57.5 per cent of voters went the other way.

The Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, the parent company of swissinfo.ch, had commissioned several surveys to gfs.bern, at a cost of between SFr20,000 ($20,000) and SFr25,000. The results were published on swissinfo.ch.

Leuenberger singled out for criticism gfs.bern director Claude Longchamp, for holding what he called a “double monopoly”.

His firm not only had the contract to conduct the poll, but he was also granted the exclusive privilege of explaining on public television where his company went wrong.

Leuenberger on Sunday already criticised the polls, which were conducted by telephone, but only surveyed people with landlines. Many younger people in Switzerland have only mobile phones.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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