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Swiss Abroad launch election year
At its meeting in Berne, the Council of the Swiss Abroad (CSA) focused on the upcoming national elections. The CSA will make voting recommendations for the first time in its history.
“This year is an election year, and it is more important than ever for us to defend the interests of the 760,000 Swiss Abroad and remind politicians that expatriate votes count,” said the President of the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA), Remo Gysin, at the start of the CSA meeting at Berne’s city hall on 23 March. Some 172,000 Swiss Abroad are currently entered in the electoral register, which corresponds to the number of eligible voters in the canton of Thurgau.
In Berne, the CSA decided that it will be making voting recommendations for the first time ever. Its objective in doing so is to take even greater account of the needs and concerns of Swiss Abroad in the forthcoming legislative period. These recommendations will be finalised at the next CSA meeting on 16 August 2019 in Montreux.
The OSA has already started an election website specifically for the Swiss Abroad (www.aso.ch/en/politics/federal-elections-2019), containing practical information about the voting procedure as well as general information about the Swiss party-political landscape. The website will serve as an expatriate platform for the political parties that currently have seats in the Federal Palace. These parties will also have the opportunity to address delegates from around the world directly at the Congress of the Swiss Abroad in Montreux.
Furthermore, the CSA will also approve a 2019 election manifesto officially on behalf of the Swiss Abroad, the basic tenets of which it drew up in Berne. The CSA will adopt a finalised version of this manifesto at its August meeting in Montreux. First and foremost, the election manifesto will target Switzerland’s political parties and their candidates for the federal elections. It will focus on issues of importance to Switzerland’s expatriate citizens, such as the future of voting rights, international mobility, preservation of the consular network, and the unsatisfactory deal that Swiss banks currently offer their Swiss expatriate clients.
With this in mind, the CSA in Berne again made reference to the fact that Postfinance expatriate clients pay much higher banking fees but do not receive the same level of service as their compatriots in Switzerland – something that many Swiss Abroad view as discrimination. According to the CSA, Postfinance AG, whose main shareholder is state-owned Swiss Post, also has a special responsibility towards Swiss citizens who live abroad. Many Swiss move abroad for professional reasons and often just for a relatively short time, making it all the more important for them to keep an account in Switzerland.
However, the CSA prefers a non-confrontational approach on this important matter and will not be taking any legal action against Postfinance for the time being. Nevertheless, the resolution that it adopted in Berne was unequivocal: “We, the Swiss Abroad, demand non-discriminatory access to the services of Postfinance.”