One canton says yes to foreigners in government; another no

In canton Jura, qualified foreigners will now be able to run for political office on the communal level Keystone

This content was published on September 28, 2014 - 16:11 and agencies

Canton Jura has voted to allow foreigners to hold seats in government, while canton Schaffhausen said no to a proposal that would have allowed some non-Swiss to vote.

In the western canton of Jura, 54% of voters said yes to allowing foreigners to hold government office on the communal level, while in the eastern canton of Schaffhausen, 85% said no to the idea of foreigners voting after five years of having lived in the canton.

That landslide “no” vote reflects longstanding attitudes, with canton Schaffhausen having voted down several proposals related to increasing foreigners’ political rights in the past several years. In this latest vote, both the city and cantonal parliaments advised against approving votes for foreigners.

In canton Jura, however, foreigners gained more political power on Sunday as the Swiss chose to allow them to hold political office in local communes. Foreigners who wish to hold office must have lived at least ten years in Switzerland and one year in canton Jura.

Although a handful of communes around Switzerland have allowed foreigners to hold political office since the year 2000, canton Jura has long been a pioneer in championing foreigner’s political rights. Non-Swiss have been able to vote on the community and cantonal levels since 1979 but may not vote on proposed changes to the Swiss constitution.

However, it took three tries to allow foreigners to hold political office in canton Jura; similar initiatives failed at the ballot box in 1996 and 2007.

Vote results in the cantons

Basel City and Basel Country won’t merge: The two Basel cantons won’t become one after a vote on September 28 where 68.3% of voters in Basel Country said no to the beginning of merger negotiations. Supporters of the merger had argued it would save both cantons money, politicians against the measure argued citizens of Basel Country should preserve their rural identity and not fuse themselves to a city. 

Transparency in politics: The latest Swiss call for full transparency in politics was nipped in the bud as voters in canton Aargau rejected an initiative seeking to shed light on campaign financing and politicians’ financial entanglements. Voters rejected the proposal with 55.7% no votes. 

Lake Geneva tunnel blocked: Voters in canton Geneva rejected plans to build a new 1.5-kilometre-long road tunnel under the lake. A total of 63% of voters turned down the initiative.

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