Weak economy blamed for vote outcome

The Left was this weekend's biggest loser, say the papers RTS

The Swiss press saw the outcome of May 18's mammoth round of voting - which went the government's way - as a resounding slap for the Left.

This content was published on May 19, 2003 - 08:32

Newspapers blamed the weak economy, deteriorating public finances and impatience with the nanny state for voters' rejection of seven of nine issues.

The Zurich-based "Tages-Anzeiger" summed up the theme running through all the newspapers. "Nine-nil to the government," it said.

The paper commented that the outcome was a hard but not a totally unexpected blow for the Left. It added that the Left must realise that people have voted against a stronger state.

"It is not up to the state to stop people going out in their cars on a Sunday," the paper pointed out before summing up the day as "a vote for individualism". It was referring to a defeated proposal to keep roads car-free for four Sundays a year.

The Tages-Anzeiger also blamed the results on the economy and the fact that people had "no courage for something new".

Reaction against the state

Reaction against too much state influence was a theme taken up by the German language newspaper, the "Neue Zürcher Zeitung".

The Zurich paper said the people had shown that they did not want to shell out any more money or suffer any further cutbacks.

The broadsheet said that in a time of a weak economy, depleted public finances and a pensions deficit, the people had showed they had a firmer grip on reality than parliament.

The Bern-based "Bund" also commented that people had shown no appetite for change or experiments.

But it added that the result clearly showed Switzerland's current political orientation - that the Swiss are solid bourgeois voters. "Switzerland is as she is," said the paper.

Bad day for the left

The blow dealt to the left - whose seven initiatives were all rejected - was another common topic in the Swiss press.

"A dark Sunday for the left," commented the French-language daily, "Le Temps". The paper went on to blame the outcome on the economy.

"Destabilised by the economic crisis, worried about the bad state of public finances, Swiss citizens have refused financial adventurism and generosity above our means," said its editorial.

The German-language tabloid "Blick" didn't mince its words. "A cold shower for the lily-livered lefties," screamed its headline.

"Leftie bosses have slunk off with their tails between their legs," commented the editorial.

The Blick said the initiatives were so left-wing that they didn't stand a chance of winning over your average Swiss, adding that none of the rejected proposals had offered any beneficial changes for the country.

But French-language "Tribune de Genève" was more philosophical. It commented that all the seven no votes were "completely normal".

The paper said that it was not at all surprised at the outcome because, historically, initiatives rarely got voted through and people usually followed government lines at the ballot box.

swissinfo, Isobel Johnson

Key facts

Equal rights for the disabled - rejected.
Closing down nuclear power stations - rejected.
Extending the moratorium on building and upgrading nuclear plants - rejected.
Linking health insurance premiums to income and wealth - rejected.
Improved rights for tenants - rejected.
Car-free Sundays - rejected.
Right to apprenticeships - rejected.
Scaling back the army - approved.
Reforming civil protection service - approved.

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In brief

The Swiss press saw the result as a victory for the government and a defeat for the left.

Many blamed the economy and the poor state of public finances for the outcome.

Others said people were reacting against too much state interference.

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