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Should foreign residents be able to vote?

“No taxation without representation.” This slogan goes back to 1750s America, but calls are increasing for the 1.8 million foreigners who have worked and paid taxes in Switzerland for years to be able to have a say in Swiss politics.

This content was published on July 20, 2012 - 11:00

Should foreign residents be able to vote? And if so, at what level – communal, cantonal or national? Or should they first integrate and obtain Swiss citizenship before participating politically? What do you think?

Foreigner voting rights

Jura: vote at communal level and possibility to stand for political office in legislative elections; vote at cantonal level except on constitutional issues.


Neuchâtel: vote at communal and cantonal levels.


Fribourg: vote and possibility to stand for political office at communal level.


Geneva: vote at communal level.


Appenzell Outer-Rhodes: communes can decide if they allow foreign residents to vote and stand for political office. So far three out of 20 have done so.


Graubünden: communes can decide if they allow foreigners to vote and stand for political office, or simply right to vote. So far ten out of 208 have done so.

Bern: on September 26, 2010, voters rejected a cantonal initiative by 72% that would have allowed communes to give foreign residents voting rights.

Basel City:  on September 26, 2010, voters rejected a cantonal initiative by 61% that would have allowed foreign residents living more than five years in the half canton to vote on communal and cantonal issues.

Lucerne: a cantonal vote is planned this autumn on whether to give foreign residents the right to vote at communal level.

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