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Government signals nationwide vote on Swisscom privatisation

The government is calling for a nationwide referendum on the privatisation of the telecommunications operator, Swisscom, and the creation of a post office bank.

It hopes the decision, announced on Wednesday, will prevent lengthy political and legal wrangling.

Legal experts had argued it would be unconstitutional for the government to give up its majority share in Swisscom or introduce postal banking services without the approval of the Swiss people and cantons.

The government said a parliamentary debate on whether the move was in line with the current constitution would only delay implementation of its plans, which it said needed to be introduced “urgently”.

It hopes that selling its shares in Swisscom will leave the company better placed to form business alliances abroad, and will also provide the money to create a post office bank.

The government decision preempts moves by Trade unions and the Social Democratic Party to call referendums of their own.

swissinfo with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR