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Author Topic: Swiss Elections & Politics (18 October 2015)  (Read 61718 times)
parochial boy
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« Reply #325 on: July 14, 2017, 04:36:34 am »
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A lot of it is from France, but also lots from Southern Europe (especially Portugal) and the Former Yugoslavia, and for every foreigner in Switzerland there is about one naturalised or second generation immigrant. In particular, given the 14 year time frame for naturalisation, the people arriving at the start of the century would have started to vote around 2014.

But yeah, I see your point, which is why I think immigration is just one factor at play (and Valais has only trended slightly left, it hasn't suddenly gone from being Texas to being San Francisco - those particular referenda were more the exception than the rule)
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« Reply #326 on: August 04, 2017, 01:06:36 pm »
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A couple of recent developments in Swiss politics to talk about:

Referendums on the 24th September
On the 24th September, three referenda are being held as follows:

1. The Prévoyance 2020 refoms - reforms being made to the Swiss pensions system. Lot's of things going on, but broadly it comes down to a slight rise in VAT and to AVS (social security) payments.

On the back of this there is a slight increase in the AVS pension payments to for the newly retired, and a reduction in LPP payments. It's too tricky to explain the Swiss retirement system, but simplifying it somewhat, AVS is the basic pension everyone gets and LPP is linked to contributions that are tied to your income.

It also raises the retirement age for women by one year and introduces a "flexible" retirement, where you can get a higher pension in return for working until you are older

2. Increase VAT to aid the financing of AVS - is basically part of the first question, but specifically relating to the increase in VAT

3. Food Security popular initiative - basically comes down to supporting sustainable and diversified food production.

Of the three, the two AVS/social security votes are going to be the really hot topics. The reforms are being proposed by the PS, supported by the Greens and the PDC; and on the flip side, they are opposed by both the right wing parties (UDC and PLR) on the basis that they amount to a rise in taxes; and by the radical left (POP, SolidaritéS and the unions) because of the raise in VAT, retirement ages and the reduction in LPP payments.

In many respects, the issue at hand has less to do with the reforms themselves, but more to do with the positions of the parties in the context of Swiss politics.

This is coming at a time where there has been an increasingly marked cleavage confronting the left (and the centre) with the right within the national parliament, both sides really need a win in order to consolidate their position.

For the PS, there is both the need to show that they have the balls to fight to protect the pension system and that they are the party that is most able to protect the welfare state/acquis sociaux.

At the same time, they have to avoid being outflanked on their left by the far-left parties (particularly in Romandie, where the far-left has a substantial influence and has been buoyed by the success that Mélenchon had in France), who are opposing the reforms. This is especially the case given the concessions that the PS had to make in bringing the PDC on board to get the reforms through parliament.

The PS itself has some divisions. The Geneva branch of the party are opposed to the reforms on the same basis as the far left - opposing the increase in retirement age for women and the raise in VAT as well as the decrease in the second pillar (contribution linked) pension payments

In contrast, on the right, the UDC, and especially the PLR need to bounce back from the defeat on RIE-III (the corporate tax reforms). Both parties have had pretty bad years at the ballot box so far (the UDC has lost across the board, and the PLR looked messy on the clean energy referendum). The PLR in particular, really needs to look like it is the leading upholder of the liberal economy; and is going to be desperate to give off the impression that it is still the natural part of government.

The UDC is very united on rejecting the referendum, somewhat at odds with it;s own agricultural base - as the farmer;s union have actually backed a Yes vote.

The PLR meanwhile, has some division. They are backing a no vote as they are generally ideologically oppsed to any intervention in the market, but some Francophone members are supporting the reforms, which have been supported by some Small Business organisations.

Replacement of Didier Burkhalter on the Federal Council
So far, focus on the replacement has largely centred on where the candidate comes from.

Ticino (Italian speaking) feel it is their turn, and have nominated one candidate, Ignazio Cassis (from the right wing of the party(

In French Switzerland - there is a bit of a fight between Vaud and Geneva as for who stands.

Geneva Conseiller d'Etat Pierre Maudet is standing. He is a moderate in the party, talking about issues such as inequality, which may put him at a handicap - as the PLR have moved right in recent years, and the even more right wing UDC are the largest party in parliament. In addition, there is a feeling that, if French Switzerland is to have any chance of having a candidate elected, it would need to be a woman.

On that basis, there are currently two women from Vaud who might stand: Isabelle Moret and Jacqueline De Quattro. However, the problem here is that Vaud already has a federal Councillor - the UDC's Guy Parmelin.
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parochial boy
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« Reply #327 on: August 24, 2017, 06:05:40 pm »
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Three candidates then, are standing to replace Burkhalter on the Federal Council:

Isabelle Moret (from Vaud). Who is a national councillor and Vice-President of the French Swiss PLR. She comes from the pre-merger Radicals, and sits somewhat on the left of the party; although is seen as somewhat stuffy and bourgeois

Pierre Maudet (from Geneva). Current Geneva Conseiller d'État. He has never had any federal representation, so lacks somewhat of a profile on the federal scene, but has impressed with the way he has managed his campaign so far. Also a somewhat moderate figure, coming from the pre-merger Radicals; but has made the economy a focus of his campaign so far, and has also made ouvertures towards the UDC.

Ignazio Cassis (from Ticino). National Councillor and head of the PLR group in the federal parliament. Seen as effective in this role and well liked by fellow parliamentarians. Ticino also feel it is their turn to have a federal councillor. He comes from the right of the party, and the PS dislike him for the way he undermined the Prévoyance 2020 pension reforms

Cassis therefore very much the favourite, although it seems like it is more open that was expected a month or two ago.

Probably only one of Moret or Maudet will actually stand in the election, although potentially both could

In the September referenda, two opinion polls have come out so far:

On the Pension reforms, Tamedia have:

Yes - 40%
No - 53%

and GFS.bern have

Yes - 53%
No - 42%

So, typically schizophrenic polling as usual.

Both pollsters are showing similar levels of support on both sides of the language divide; and are showing a substantial lead for "Yes" in the Food Security vote.

Tamedia tabs

GFS.Bern tabs can be found here (including ones in a proper language).

« Last Edit: August 25, 2017, 07:29:21 am by parochial boy »Logged
parochial boy
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« Reply #328 on: September 10, 2017, 12:44:19 pm »
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There are actually a couple more referendums going on in Switzerland this month - on the 17th of September, Sorvilier and Belprahon, two communes in the Francophone Jura Bernois district of the otherwise majority German speaking canton of Bern will vote on whether to join the Francophone canton of Jura.

This comes three months after the largest francophone town in the region*, Moutier, voted to join the Jura- in what was promised to be a definitive end to the "Question Jurassienne" (See my earlier post for a bit of context).

Sorvilier and Belprahon are both small though, so there has been nowhere near the level of tension that there was in the run up to the Moutier vote. However, with Sorvilier, should it vote to leave Bern, would become an enclave, as it does not border the Jura. This has been used as an argument to stay, although enclaves are common in Switzerland (12 cantons, including Bern, already have them).

As for how the results could go - in 2013, the whole Jura Bernois voted on whether or not to join Jura - across the whole district, 72% voted to remain in Bern - but in Sorvilier the no vote was 54.1%, and in Belprahon it was a dead heat.

*The largest francophone community in Bern is actually the bilingual (but majority German speaking) town of Biel/Bienne - although it's own position has been somewhat complicated by Moutier's leave vote (and like most of the French-German border region, it is becoming increasingly Francophone)
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parochial boy
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« Reply #329 on: September 17, 2017, 08:07:41 am »
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Sorvilier and Belprahon have both voted to stay in the canton of Bern

Belprahon by 121 votes to 114
Sorvilier by 121 votes to 62

And that, you would think, means the end of the Question Jurassienne
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« Reply #330 on: September 17, 2017, 11:15:58 am »
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*The largest francophone community in Bern is actually the bilingual (but majority German speaking) town of Biel/Bienne - although it's own position has been somewhat complicated by Moutier's leave vote (and like most of the French-German border region, it is becoming increasingly Francophone)

Immigration from France?
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parochial boy
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« Reply #331 on: September 17, 2017, 11:58:30 am »
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Immigration, yes, but less from France and more from Portugal, Italy and Spain. Those immigrants tend to find it easier to learn another romance language like French than to learn German.

Even for immigrants from the rest of the world, it is much easier to integrate by learning French, as you only have to learn French - as opposed to having to learn both standard German and Swiss German.
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« Reply #332 on: September 20, 2017, 03:01:32 am »
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Ignazio Chollet has been elected to the Swiss Federal council at the second round of the election - the final results were as follows:

Ignazio Chollet - 125 votes
Pierre Maudet - 90 votes
Isabelle Moret - 28 votes

(the voters were all 246 members of the Swiss parliament, with an absolute majority required in order to be elected)
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« Reply #333 on: September 24, 2017, 05:52:22 am »
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Ignazio Chollet - 125 votes


(the voters were all 246 members of the Swiss parliament, with an absolute majority required in order to be elected)

As far as I know, the name of our new foreign secretary is Ignazio Cassis. Did Google just translate his Name? Wink
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parochial boy
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« Reply #334 on: September 24, 2017, 05:58:07 am »
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Lol, I was thinking of this guy
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parochial boy
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« Reply #335 on: September 26, 2017, 04:15:38 am »
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Anyways, Sunday's referendum results

Food Security passes with 78.7% Yes Map
Prévoyance vieillesse fails with 52.7% No Map
the VAT rise fails with 50.1% no Map

Quite a predictable set (with a few surprises, notably Lucerne) once you factor in the left wing opposition to the reforms in Geneva, which explains the strong "No" votes there (and the knock on effect in Vaud).
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parochial boy
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« Reply #336 on: October 04, 2017, 03:52:26 pm »
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Big news at the moment is the annual price increase in health insurance, up 4% on average, but higher in much of Romandie; and has led to new calls to reforms the system (just in case anybody thought Switzerland was a good example for the US to follow). Health insurance costs can take up a much of a third of a low income family's income.

There are currently two popular initiatives that are collecting signatures over a reform to the system, but none as radical as the caisse publique initiatve which failed in 2013 (Thank you Swiss Germans).

All in all, probably well timed given new Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis's, ahem, links to the health insurance lobby.
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parochial boy
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« Reply #337 on: December 15, 2017, 02:20:18 pm »
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A few updates, cos why not

4th of March Referenda
As there was no national vote in November, and seeing as Referendums are basically the only thing that happens in Switzerland, the campaign for the next round has kicked off earlier than usual. There are two votes going on:

The 2021 Financial Regime - is a vote to "guarantee" the revenues obtained from VAT and federal income taxes. Between them, they make up 60% of the Confederations receipts. If passed, the confederation would be allowed to continue to collect the two taxes until 2035.

"No Billag" popular initiative -  Is a vote on whether to cancel the licence fee used to fund the SSR the Swiss public broadcaster, who run a plethora of TV and radio channels across all four "national" languages. "Billag" is the name of the company that collects the fee.

This vote is going to be the bigger, more exciting one of the two - and has already generated controversy when the presenters of the most popular French-Swiss comedy shows threatened to sue over a fake advert posted on facebook that suggested they supported abolishing Billag.

The Yes campaign is so far focussing on all the predictable themes surrounding a public broadcaster - that they dominate the market, that the fee is too high, and that SSR journalists are all a bunch of politically correct liberals anyway (on that subject - the idea that the Swiss media has a left wing bias, much touted as of late, is... laughable to say the least).

The UDC seem like they might support the initiative (of course), which has nothing to do with the fact that Blocher himself is proprietor of quite a few news outlets.

This is also an issue where the language divide could rear it's ugly head, as, a part of the resentment towards the Billag is based on the disproportionate level of funding that goes towards the linguistic minority (especially Italian) channels. On the flip side, there is the feeling in French and Italian Switzerland that that RTS, RSI and the radio stations are necessary to protect a certain level of cultural output in the two regions. And Couleur 3 is potentially the best radio station in the world, so I am not at all biased.

Funnily enough, this might also have an impact on the rural cantons in Eastern Switzerland vote, as they also rely more heavily on the SSR for local media output.

Anyway, for obvious reasons, the non-UDC parties (except for the PLR youth) and various business organisations are all backing a no vote.

A first poll has support for the initiative 57-34% ahead, but can be discounted on the basis of its joke methodology (self-selecting panel, too small sample size, and didn't actually poll anyone over the age of 65  - the age group seen as being most likely to vote "no" as they don't tend to have netflix or whatever).

Also bear in mind that early popular initiative polling nearly always overstates support for an initiative, as these polls come out before the campaigns actually start (ie before the parties start to make the case to their electorates)

Geneva News
The most important, and the most eccentric canton has it's cantonal elections next year; and so far, it has lived up to it's reputation*. The most notable bust up so far has been on the populist right; between the MCG (now led by Mauro Poggia) and ex-leader Eric Stauffer's breakaway party, called "Genève en marche". Which is hillarious on so many levels.

Notorious for his anti-French, anti-frontalier rhetoric, Stauffer left the MCG last year, claiming to have been the victim of a leftist coup, after he lost the election to the presidency of the party.

It is certainly the case that the MCG in it's current form has pretty much fully aligned itself with the left in the Geneva Grand Conseil - leading to a de facto leftwing majority (compounded by the PDC refusing to co-operate with the PLR, even though they shared a joint list in 2008; leading to a certain level of rapprochement, seen across the whole country, of the PLR with the UDC) in the legislature.

Anyway, both the MCG and "GEM" seem to be trying to "out left" each other at the moment. As I mentioned earlier, Mauro Poggia has launched a national initiative to restrict the links between politicians and health insurers - which Stuaffer as tried to outdo by launching his own initiative, to introduce a single payer public health insurance system within Geneva (which is possibly not actually legal, but whatever).

The Buffet affair
Sexual harrasment scandal hits the Swiss parliament - Yannick Buttet, a PDC Conseiller national from Valais has been accused of various sorts of harrasment, leading to his suspension from the party. A bunch of female politicians have also revealed they have been harrassed, including an UDC one - leading to predictable reactions from her own party.

*Geneva has a certain reputation, in the normally tedious world of Swiss politics, for scandals, bust ups and general chaos, leading to the Germans coining the term "Genferei" to describe that sort of thing. Of course, compared to the rest of the world, what goes on in Geneva isn't particularly unusual - it just happens to be the sole urban, Francophone canton, whereas the rest of the country is, well, Switzerland.
« Last Edit: January 06, 2018, 04:52:09 pm by parochial boy »Logged
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« Reply #338 on: December 15, 2017, 04:38:17 pm »
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Is this person/movement a serious political force, parochial? POLITICO seem to think so...

https://www.politico.eu/list/politico-28-2018-ranking/flavia-kleiner/

but then again some of the names on that list are horrible.
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« Reply #339 on: December 15, 2017, 05:08:55 pm »
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I believe they're fairly well known in German Switzlerand; in Romandie, not so much. I wouldn't have been able to pick her out of a crowd to be honest...

Although I'm tempted to sneer at them as being a bunch of liberals, she is spot on about how the UDC have (scored a political master stroke in doing so) taken adavantage of the popular initiative mechanism to promote themselves. It's a running joke that you can tell there's an election on the way when the UDC launch a new controversial referendum.

Now Tamara Funiciello is someone who I would say is stirring things up. But then again, I'm biased.
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« Reply #340 on: December 16, 2017, 11:10:50 am »
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I believe they're fairly well known in German Switzlerand; in Romandie, not so much. I wouldn't have been able to pick her out of a crowd to be honest...

Although I'm tempted to sneer at them as being a bunch of liberals, she is spot on about how the UDC have (scored a political master stroke in doing so) taken adavantage of the popular initiative mechanism to promote themselves. It's a running joke that you can tell there's an election on the way when the UDC launch a new controversial referendum.

Now Tamara Funiciello is someone who I would say is stirring things up. But then again, I'm biased.

This had me thinking, how often do your electorates intertwine in debates, etc. I always got the impression (with your party system that doesn't seem that split) that there was still some level of interest at the "federal" unit of analysis, unlike here. So German-speaking cantons would still be aware of what is going on in Romandie and vice versa, and vote accordingly at "federal issues".

Would Funiciello for example, if she were to get more popularity in Romandie, then attempt to establish herself and her movement in some German-speaking cities? Or is it just not done?
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parochial boy
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« Reply #341 on: December 16, 2017, 02:05:18 pm »
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I believe they're fairly well known in German Switzlerand; in Romandie, not so much. I wouldn't have been able to pick her out of a crowd to be honest...

Although I'm tempted to sneer at them as being a bunch of liberals, she is spot on about how the UDC have (scored a political master stroke in doing so) taken adavantage of the popular initiative mechanism to promote themselves. It's a running joke that you can tell there's an election on the way when the UDC launch a new controversial referendum.

Now Tamara Funiciello is someone who I would say is stirring things up. But then again, I'm biased.

This had me thinking, how often do your electorates intertwine in debates, etc. I always got the impression (with your party system that doesn't seem that split) that there was still some level of interest at the "federal" unit of analysis, unlike here. So German-speaking cantons would still be aware of what is going on in Romandie and vice versa, and vote accordingly at "federal issues".

Would Funiciello for example, if she were to get more popularity in Romandie, then attempt to establish herself and her movement in some German-speaking cities? Or is it just not done?

Oh, that's kind of a tricky question. I would say overall, it is not like Belgium - the national referenda are obviously national level debates, and interest in what is going on at the federal level is driven much more by political ideology, than by linguistic identity. I mean, outside a few journos and party cadres, no-one really cares about which language region has what level of representation on the federal council for instance.

In the case of Opération Libero, it is starting to grow in French Switzerland; there is just a natural barrier as the average French Swiss speaks virtually no German, and vice versa.

The caveat here is that there is a certain element where, because it is the majority, German Switzerland is basically seen as being equivalent to the whole of Switzerland, and Ticino goes along with this to some degree as they are far more worried about "not being Italian". In that respect, Romandie can feel a little bit apart. (I have a feeling that Swiss-Germans tend to be much more concerned about the cantonal level specifically, whereas French Swiss tend to have a stronger identity of being Romand).

The party system is funny as well - up until 2009, there was a pretty major split between French and German Switzerland on the right; but that was killed off by the rise of the UDC. Local branches can still have pretty major differences (the Socialists are way further left in Geneva than they are anywhere else; and there is a pretty major linguistic divide in the PS in terms of which issues get focussed on and voter demographics - it's a lot more working class in Romandie); but there is a trend towards national consolidation.

Anyway, I'm waffling, but to answer your question; it is quite disjointed, but less than it used to be (which is not the same as saying that voting patterns have converged)
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« Reply #342 on: December 16, 2017, 06:11:50 pm »
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No its given me a good impression, thanks. I think looking at Switzerland we could do with some federal-wide referenda to rekindle some federal debate (beyond politique politicienne), but I imagine it would end up like the Royal Question : interpreted as a North-South divide.
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« Reply #343 on: December 31, 2017, 08:24:59 pm »
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A warm welcome to the first(?) new head of state of 2018. The new president of Switzerland, the socialist Alain Berset!

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parochial boy
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« Reply #344 on: January 19, 2018, 07:19:42 am »
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First "proper" poll on No Billag. From Tamedia, who I have serious doubts about, but it is predicting a crushing defeat for the initiative (40% yes, 59% no). The general pattern with referendums is that, as the campaign progresses, there is movement towards the establishment (ie Federal Council and the parties) position, so the chances of this one passing look pretty slim.

Glorious news!

« Last Edit: January 19, 2018, 07:21:30 am by parochial boy »Logged
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