Virtually the whole Swiss parliament has joined a multi-party committee urging Swiss voters to say yes to the bilateral accords with the European Union. The issue comes before a national referendum on May 21.This content was published on April 25, 2000 - 17:54
Virtually the whole Swiss parliament has joined a multi-party committee urging Swiss voters to say yes to the bilateral accords with the European Union. The issue comes before a national referendum on May 21.
Opinion polls are predicting a clear majority for the accords, which are designed to remove any economic discrimination between Switzerland and the EU. The seven treaties cover a range of issues, from transport to the free movement of people.
Even though the Swiss parliament was not able to modify one single clause in the accords, the bilaterals received overwhelming support in the House of Representatives and Senate. This is reflected in the massive support for the multi-party committee which is now seeking to mobilise support for the national vote.
While analysts are predicting a "no" vote of only around 30 per cent, the government and parliamentarians do not want to regard the outcome as a foregone conclusion. It would not be the first time that last-minute opposition has arisen, and this is why, despite optimistic opinion polls, government ministers and parliamentarians are taking no chances and are joining meetings up and down the country.
One of the difficulties confronting supporters of the bilaterals, is that the opposition is by no means tangible. None of the big parties is against the treaty, and of the numerous small groups opposing the accords, only the small traders and artisans federation is well-known.
Despite the widespread use of postal voting, there are other factors which can influence the outcome on the day. The key one is turnout, which depends partly on which local and cantonal issues the people are required to vote on.
by Peter Haller
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