Press say voters mistrust political establishment

The Swiss press called the result a slap in the face for government swissinfo.ch

The Swiss media have interpreted the results of Sunday’s nationwide votes as a sign of mistrust in government and parliament.

This content was published on December 11, 2003 - 08:24

They say the country’s political establishment has shown itself to be out of touch with the will of the people.

The media on Monday focused on the triple blow to the government after the Swiss threw out all three of their proposals and recommendations on Sunday.

Voters turned down plans to ease traffic congestion and to change the law on rents, but voted in favour of a people's initiative to lock up violent criminals and sex offenders for life.

“Vote of mistrust,” stated the headline in the “Neue Zürcher Zeitung”.

For the “Tages-Anzeiger”, the weekend was “a triple slap in the face by voters for both the government and the parliament”, because the political establishment didn’t do what the people wanted.

This sentiment is echoed in the French-language daily, “Le Temps”:

“The landing has been a tough one this Sunday for the government and parliament, brought down to earth with a bump,” said its editorial.

The paper said the reasons for the government’s failure were a lack of visibility and command of the situation.

Transport

“The heirs of William Tell have given the road lobby a telling off,” commented the tabloid “Blick” on the failure of the government’s transport proposal.

For Le Temps, the outcome was a sign that the Swiss had “rejected a deep political incoherence, which tries to advocate budget cuts in all directions while trying to prioritise roads in the years to come”.

The Bern-based “Bund” commented that even the cities with the greatest traffic problems threw out the transport proposal. Obviously the desire to preserve the alpine environment was stronger than getting rid of the traffic outside the front door, it added.

But the paper found that the “no” vote to the two government-backed proposals - transport and rent - showed the limits of the turn to the right following the election of Christoph Blocher and Hans-Rudolf Merz to the cabinet on December 10 last year.

Offenders

The NZZ added that people power was the big winner at the weekend, mainly thanks to the “yes” vote to the offenders’ initiative.

“The people have decided against the cabinet and the parliament, and in such a clear way that it was surely not a coincidence,” said the NZZ.

But the Tribune de Genève wondered if the rightwing Swiss People’s Party, which supported the people’s initiative to lock up dangerous offenders for life, was more in tune with society than the rest of the political establishment.

“If this is the case, then the People’s Party hasn’t finished cashing in on its success,” said the paper.

Foreign reaction

The passing of the people's initiative against violent and sex offenders has made its way into the foreign press.

Britain's "Guardian" commented that the vote would give Switzerland one of the toughest laws in Europe against violent offenders. This was echoed by the "Daily Telegraph", which underlined that it was a citizens' initiative.

The foreign media, including the "International Herald Tribune" and the "Scotsman", also noted that the results were a setback for the Swiss government.

swissinfo, Isobel Leybold

In brief

All cantons rejected the government's and parliament's transport proposal and a plan to change the law on rents.

Voting results: 62.8% against the transport proposal, 64% against the rent plan, 56.2% for the offenders' initiative.

Voter turnout was 45%.

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