Swiss likely to approve both November votes

Many are still undecided over the moratorium on GMOs

Voters look set to accept Sunday trading in major transport hubs and a moratorium on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in agriculture, says a poll.

This content was published on October 21, 2005 - 18:00

The gfs institute survey, which was commissioned by the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation – swissinfo's parent company - comes a month before the two issues go to a vote.

The Swiss will go to the polls on November 27 to decide whether the labour law should be modified to allow Sunday shopping at major railways stations and airports.

The move has been accepted by parliament but is subject to a referendum launched by the Swiss Federation of Trade Unions.

Friday's poll shows that a majority of Swiss support parliament's position: 59 per cent said they supported the changes, 33 per cent were against and eight per cent were undecided.


Experts said that with just one month to go opinions on Sunday trading already seemed to be clear, adding that the percentage of undecided people was too low to tip the balance either way.

Such a low number of undecided ahead of a vote was "out of the ordinary", they said.

This could be explained by the fact that the issue was a simple one: whether to allow Sunday shopping or not.

The whole country seems to support the move, with more than 50-per-cent support in all three language regions. The French speakers were the most keen with 68 per cent in favour.

Income proved to be a determinant factor in the level of support given to Sunday trading, with those with higher salary levels generally more in favour.

The poll found that in households with an average income of SFr3,000 ($2,336) per month, the number of yes voters was 53 per cent. But in households with SFr9,000 per month, support rose to 70 per cent.

Reacting to the poll on Friday, the Swiss Federation of Trade Unions criticised the result, saying the right questions had not been asked.

It said the vote was not on Sunday shopping, but on whether people should work on Sundays.

Left and right

On a political level, supporters of the parties to the right of the political spectrum largely approved of Sunday shopping. The most avid supporters were to be found in the centre-right Christian Democratic Party at 74 per cent.

This was followed by the rightwing Swiss People's Party (65 per cent) and the centre-right Radical Party (55 per cent).

Surprisingly, 60 per cent of centre-left Social Democratic Party voters were also in favour – despite the fact that the referendum comes from the political left.

However, union membership made a clear difference: only 47 per cent of union members accepted Sunday trading, compared with 59 per cent of non-members.

But even among union members, there were more in favour (47 per cent) than against (45 per cent).


Voters are also due to pronounce on whether to ban the use of GMOs from agriculture for a period of five years, after a coalition of consumer and green groups launched a popular initiative.

The poll found that 47 per cent of those questioned were in favour of the ban, 36 per cent against, with 17 per cent undecided.

Experts said that it was therefore still not possible to predict the outcome of the vote.

The strongest support for the moratorium was found among Christian Democrat supporters at 58 per cent. This could be explained by the fact that the party has a lot of rural voters. The Swiss Farmers' Association is in favour of the ban.

Social Democrat voters were also largely supportive, whereas the Swiss People's Party - traditionally with its roots among the farmers - remained divided, with a roughly half-and-half split (47 per cent for, 46 per cent against).

Only the Radical voters were strongly opposed – with 36 per cent approving the moratorium and 44 per cent rejecting it.

swissinfo, Olivier Pauchard

Key facts

Allowing Sunday trading in major transport centres: 59% yes, 33% no and 8% undecided.
Putting a moratorium on GMOs in agriculture: 47% yes, 36% no and 17% undecided.
Expected voter turnout: 47%.

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In brief

The poll by the Bern-based gfs institute was carried out between October 10-15.

1216 people from across the country were surveyed by telephone.

The margin of error for this type of survey is around 3%.

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