Foreigner voting rights brushed aside by Swiss legislators

Parliament has dismissed a new attempt to let foreigners participate in votes and elections. Keystone/Peter Klaunzer

Parliament has thrown out two proposals to grant foreign residents in Switzerland full voting rights.

This content was published on June 8, 2022 - 11:52

The House of Representatives voted against a Green Party plan paving the way for foreigners living in Switzerland for at least five years the right to take part in votes and elections and be elected to office at a national level.

A clear majority of the house also threw out a separate proposal by a Social Democratic parliamentarian, Mustafa Atici, to grant full political rights at a local level.

Tuesday’s decision blocked a new attempt by the political left to draft a bill, provided the Senate, the other parliamentary chamber, also agreed to the proposals.

Proponents argued that it was a step to make Swiss society more democratic and more inclusive as more than 20% of the resident population currently can’t participate in the country’s direct democratic system.

They also said that the examples of Neuchâtel and Fribourg – two of Switzerland’s 26 cantons – were models to be followed by others.

However, opponents said foreign residents should seek Swiss citizenship first before being given voting rights and cantons and municipalities should remain free to decide themselves.

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