The painter, illustrator and sculptor Hans Erni died on 21 March, a month after his 106th birthday. Erni began painting in the 1920s and became famous with a mural for the 1939 national exhibition which was five metres high and a hundred metres long. Erni designed many posters which reflected his commitment to a more just world. He campaigned for the introduction of old-age and survivors’ insurance (AHV) and women’s suffrage as well as against nuclear weapons.
New rules for popular initiatives
The think-tank Avenir Suisse is calling for stricter rules to be applied to federal popular initiatives in future. Popular initiatives are increasingly frequently being used as a means of political campaigning contrary to their intended purpose. Avenir Suisse proposes increasing the number of signatures required to 211,000, which equates to 4% of the electorate. The annulment criteria would also be applied more strictly in the preliminary examination.
More guests than expected
Switzerland’s hotel industry has posted good figures despite all the forecasts. In February 2015, there were 3.1 million overnight stays overall, according to the Federal Statistical Office, which represents a 6% increase (+176,000 overnight stays) compared to February 2014. Swiss guests accounted for just under half, which is an 8.4% rise compared to the previous year. There was a 3.8% climb in foreign guests.
New committee to save the bilateral agreements
“Vorteil Schweiz” (Advantage Switzerland) is the name of a new committee campaigning against the “EU-NO” association of former Federal Councillor Christoph Blocher and the attack by the Swiss People’s Party (SVP) on the bilateral agreements and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The founding members include the SP Council of States member Pascale Bruderer, the National Councillors Ruedi Noser (FDP), Hans Grunder (BDP), Filippo Lombardi (CVP) and Raphaël Comte (FDP) as well as the business leaders Jobst Wagner and Hansjörg Wyss. The two latter figures are apparently willing to contribute two million Swiss francs for start-up funding. Media reports indicate that they will provide a further five million if a referendum on the bilateral agreements takes place.
The editorial in the April issue of “Swiss Review” said that the Socialist Party’s election manifesto contained “no mention” of Switzerland’s relationship with the EU. The SP does not agree with this description. In actual fact, while none of the 10 projects of the election manifesto mentions Europe, the word “Europe” appears five times in the publication’s foreword.