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Women set different priorities at the polls

A survey has found that Swiss women tend to lean slightly more to the left than men in nationwide ballots.

This content was published on February 5, 2007 - 19:58

But the report said the disparities between people with different levels of education are more pronounced than those between the two sexes.

The results are based on the analysis carried out by the gfs.bern research institute of ten nationwide votes between 2004 and 2006.

The survey, published by the Federal Chancellery on Monday, said that as a rule more female voters came out in favour of environmental, social and public service issues than their male counterparts. The exceptions were votes on the liberalisation of abortion and the introduction of paid maternity leave.

The researchers said women had swung the votes in rejected ballots on the liberalisation of the electricity market and a proposal to tighten asylum legislation in 2002.

For their part, men tend to support the interests of the business economy and the army more than women.

The biggest discrepancy in voting patterns was recorded in a ballot on improvements to Switzerland's main road network and on a second transalpine road tunnel through the Gotthard.

Forty-six per cent of men came out in favour, but only 29 per cent of women voted for the initiative in 2004.

However, the report says both sexes can swing a vote.

Trust in government

The survey also found that public confidence in the government and its institutions has remained stable but at a low level since 2004.

The researchers add that supporters of the rightwing Swiss People's Party and independent voters find the government increasingly trustworthy. They say it's partly the result of Christoph Blocher, a figurehead of the People's Party, being elected to the cabinet in 2003.

There has also been consolidation of the percentage of citizens who are actively discussing the issues of nationwide votes. The figure increased from 30 to 45 per cent between 2002 and 2005, and stabilised at 40 per cent in 2006.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

The survey is based on ten nationwide votes between 2004 and 2006.
The results are compared with 14 votes between 2000 and 2003.

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In brief

Women's suffrage was only introduced in Switzerland on a nationwide level in 1971.

The Federal Court in 1990 ordered Appenzell Inner-Rhodes to grant women the right to vote on a cantonal level.

Normally Swiss citizens are called to the ballot boxes four times a year.

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