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Opponents narrow the gap ahead of vote

A survey shows voters support the new proposals, but opponents are catching up

(swissinfo.ch)

Swiss voters appear to be in favour of easing citizenship rules and introducing statutory maternity benefits.

But the latest opinion poll shows that opponents have been narrowing the gap in the run-up to the nationwide vote on September 26.

The survey, conducted by the GfS Bern polling and research institute on behalf of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, found that the number of those opposed to the initiatives had grown.

“It shows that broadly speaking supporters have been too much on the defensive,” said the report, which was published on Wednesday.

“Opponents have not only convinced undecided voters but also managed to win over people who were initially in favour,” it added.

Those in favour of making it easier for young foreigners to get a Swiss passport are still ahead, but the margin has shrunk considerably since a similar survey in August.

Citizenship

Sixty-four per cent of respondents said they would vote in favour of plans to grant citizenship to children born in Switzerland to foreign parents educated in the country, according to the new survey.

Twenty-nine per cent came out against – up ten per cent from August.

The decline was even more marked in the case of a proposal to ease naturalisation for young foreigners educated in Switzerland.

The survey found that 53 per cent of those interviewed intended to support the proposal, while 37 per cent said they would vote against it later this month.

Some nine per cent were still undecided.

Both proposals are opposed by the rightwing Swiss People’s Party, but backed by the other three major political parties and the government.

Analysts point out that a simple majority of voters will not be enough to carry the proposals.

Under Swiss law, a majority of the country’s 26 cantons will have to give their approval for both issues to succeed at the ballot box.

Maternity benefits

A proposal to introduce statutory maternity benefits also appears to have lost some ground among the electorate.

Fifty-nine per cent of potential voters said they would support the benefits, while 32 per cent came out against, according to the survey.

In comparison with a similar poll carried out in August this represents a drop of ten per cent among supporters, while the number of opponents is up by 14 per cent.

The People’s Party is the only major political group to have campaigned against statutory paid maternity leave.

Voter turnout

No results were released on voting intentions regarding plans to slow down the restructuring of Switzerland’s postal services, and prevent the closure of 800 post offices across the country.

A trade union and the country’s leading consumer protection group collected enough signatures to force a nationwide vote on this issue.

Pollsters expect voter turnout to reach around 55 per cent on September 26, 11 per cent higher than predicted in an earlier survey.

The latest results are based on interviews with 1,214 potential voters in the German, French and Italian-speaking parts of the country. The survey was conducted two weeks before the vote.

swissinfo, Urs Geiser

In brief

The latest opinion poll by the GfS Bern polling institute shows a majority of voters are in favour of easing citizenship rules and introducing paid statutory maternity benefits.

However, opponents led by the rightwing People’s Party appear to be narrowing the gap.

Respondents were not questioned over a proposal to slow down reforms of the postal services, which will also come to a nationwide vote on September 26.

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