BERN, SWITZERLAND – Swiss citizens went to the polls Sunday 23 September to vote on three federal ballot items, all of them popular initiatives.
The results of the 23 September federal popular initiatives
- No to a nationwide ban on smoking in public areas that would have tightened existing rules, 66% against, 34% for, with Geneva the only canton to approve it
- a shift in taxation on housing for retired homeowners, 52.6% against, 47.4% for
- musical education for all children, more than 72% voted to approve it.
Lump sum taxation, 1 down, 1 tougher, in German-speaking Switzerland
Two cantons, Basel State and Bern, voted on lump sum tax agreements for individuals, popularly known in French as forfaits fiscaux (correct name: impôt sur la dépense).
Bernese voters opted to keep the tax, but to tighten the rules, while Basel State voters decided to end it, a vote that directly affects only 15 people. German-speaking Swiss cantons have only been offering the lump sum tax deals for the past 10-15 years. Half of all such agreements are in Geneva, Vaud and Valais, according to an in-depth story l’Hebdo ran in May 2011.
But the numbers have been increasing steadily, from just over 2,300 in 2004 to 5,600 in 2010 and the issue will come up again in other cantons (background story, swissinfo 2011).
In addition, a number of communes and municipalities nationwide held local elections. Geneva is holding two cantonal votes on additional credits for two transport projects: a covered bypass for Vésenaz under the route de Thonon and for the Cornavin – Annemasse rail link via La Praille – les Eaux-Vives (CEVA). Vaud is not holding any cantonal votes.
Passive smoking, not expected to pass
The first, a passive smoking ban, is widely expected not to pass, despite strong support throughout the country for non-smoking laws, partly because of views that it is an infringement of cantonal, or state rights and partly because the law already limits most public smoking. If passed, the initiative would have a major impact on some restaurants, cafes and bars that are now allowed to maintain limited smoking areas.
Switzerland’s anti-smoking laws currently vary considerably from one canton to another. The Swiss Federal Council (cabinet) has opposed the popular initiative, arguing that current restrictions are adequate, and both houses of parliament have voted against it, with large majorities opposing it.
While the law already bans smoking in most public areas, but the popular initiative would end exceptions to the rule.
Music education for the young, few are likely to say no
The vote that is most likely to pass easily is a change to the constitution that would incorporate musical education into programmes for all young people throughout the country.
Retired homeowners taxation shift: unclear where this is headed
The third initiative would allow retired homeowners to shift from being taxes on a rental equivalent lump sum for their homes, but in exchange they would not be able to use as many itemized deductions. The idea behind the shift is to ease the tax burden for the elderly who own homes, but its support from parliament has been limited and the Federal Council is opposed to it.
Zurich and Geneva look likely to vote in favour of it, however, reports RTS.