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Dear Swiss Abroad,

I know that voting on people’s initiatives and referendums can be tricky for some of you with the slow postal ballots and restricted e-voting options. But it is something that is a part of the Swiss identity. Few other nations call upon their citizens to make their opinions known with such frequency.

The flip side is having to grapple with a whole host of new issues before you’ve even cast your vote on the previous ones. The June 9 vote campaigns are just getting warmed up but we already know what lies in store for us on September 22. Vive la démocratie direct!

watches
Keystone/Martial Trezzin

In the news: Schumacher’s watches, Federer’s shoes, missing body and Sanko saga.

A cyberattack may have delayed the Christie’s rare watches auction in Geneva by one day but the bidders were not put off. Eight watchesExternal link, including timepieces by Rolex, F.P. Journe and Audemars Piguet, were put up for sale by the family of racing driver Michael Schumacher, who has not been seen in public since suffering a severe head injury in a fall while skiing off-piste in 2013. The timepieces netted around CHF4 million in total, with the F.P. Journe Vagabondage given to Schumacher as a Christmas present by his Ferrari team principal Jean Todt selling for CHF1.5 million.

The Roger Federer-backed Swiss shoe company On reported quarterly sales of CHF508 millionExternal link ($560 million) at constant exchange rates, up 29% from a year ago and ahead of market expectations. On now has about 50 company-owned stores, mostly located in China, and plans to open a second Paris location on the Champs-Élysées ahead of the Olympics this summer.

Police found the body of a Canadian man who had been missing since the deadly avalanche that hit the Riffelberg ski slope in Zermatt on April 1. A 58-year-old Swiss man, a 25-year-old Canadian woman and a 15-year-old American boy died in the avalanche in an off-piste area of the Riffelberg, above Zermatt, near the famed Matterhorn peak.

Ousman Sonko, the Gambia’s interior minister from 2006 to 2016 under then-President Yahya Jammeh, was sentenced to 20 years in prisonExternal link by the Swiss Federal Criminal Court. The trial that began in January was seen by advocacy groups as an opportunity to reach a conviction under “universal jurisdiction,” which allows the prosecution of serious crimes committed abroad.

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Keystone/Salvatore di Nolf

September 22 vote: Occupational pension and biodiversity

The Swiss will vote on two issues External linkon September 22: A referendum against the reform of occupational pensions (second pillar pension) and the biodiversity initiative.

The occupational pension reform provides for a reduction in the conversion rate, from 6.8% to 6%, which has become necessary due to the increase in life expectancy. The capital built up by the contributor will therefore result in a smaller annual payment. The political left and unions were against the reform and launched a referendum against it last March.

The Swiss will also vote on the biodiversity initiative launched in 2020. The text asks for sufficient resources and space for nature. It also wants to anchor better protection of the landscape and built heritage in the constitution. The counter proposal was rejected by parliament on the grounds it went too far.

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Hosted by: Katy Romy

June 9 votes in Switzerland: how can healthcare costs be reined in?

On June 9, Swiss voters will decide on two initiatives aimed at capping the cost of healthcare in the country. Have your say on the issue here.

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