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The big election survey

18.09.2019 – Theodora Peter

“Swiss Review” asked the country’s seven most popular political parties to give clear and concise answers to some fundamental questions. We have printed their answers here as a guide to all those who wish to vote in the federal elections on 20 October.

Brief profile of the seven strongest parties among the Swiss electorate

BDP

Conservative Democratic Party (BDP); founded as a centrist party in 2008 as a breakaway from the SVP. Share of the vote in 2015: 4.1%. Current political clout: 7 seats on the National Council, 1 seat on the Council of States, www.bdp.info

CVP

Christian Democrat People’s Party (CVP): centrist party with conservative Catholic roots. Share of the vote in 2015: 11.6%. Current political clout: 26 seats on the National Council, 14 seats on the Council of States, 1 seat on the Federal Council. www.cvp.ch

FDP

Formerly the Free Democratic Party; known FDP.The Liberals since the merger with the Liberal Party in 2009. Share of the vote in 2015: 16.4%. Current political clout: 33 seats on the National Council, 12 seats on the Council of States, 2 seats on the Federal Council. www.fdp.ch

GLP

Green Liberal Party, founded as a centrist party in 2007 after splitting from the Green Party. Share of the vote in 2015: 4.6%. Current political clout: 8 seats on the National Council. www.grunliberale.ch

Green Party

Left-wing party with roots in the anti-nuclear movement and civic groups. Share of the vote in 2015: 7.1%. Current political clout: 11 seats on the National Council, 1 seat on the Council of States. www.gruene.ch

SVP

Swiss People’s Party, conservative, nationalist right-wing party, the strongest party since 2003. Share of the vote in 2015: 29.4%. Current political clout: 64 seats on the National Council, 5 seats on the Council of States, 2 seats on the Federal Council. www.svp.ch

SP

Social Democratic Party of Switzerland, the only left-wing party in the national government, roots in the labour movement. Share of the vote in 2015: 18.8%. Current political clout: 42 seats on the National Council, 12 seats on the Council of States, 2 seats on the Federal Council. www.sp-ps.ch

 

Demographic changes affect the financing of social services. Should the age of retirement in Switzerland be increased to 64 for women and 65 for men?

BDP

YES
A retirement age of 65 for men and women is unavoidable for the financial security of OASI.

CVP

YES
The system can be sustainably financed through gradual adjustment; women should not have to bear the costs for this. Gaps in contributions due to maternity must be compensated.

FDP

YES
The age of retirement should be changed to 65/65 as a first step. In the long term, demographic trends mean we need to have discussions about taking real action.

GLP

YES
Demographic trends mean increasing the age of retirement and making it more flexible are imperative.

Green Party

NO
Due to lower wages and unpaid support and care work, there is a large pension shortfall for women today. Unless this shortfall is remedied, increasing the age of retirement is unfair.

SVP

YES
A retirement age of 65 for women and men is unavoidable for the financial security of OASI.

SP

NO
The situation of older workers on the jobs market is dramatic, with an increase in long-term unemployment and the social welfare quota. Older unemployed people are discriminated against.

On 14 June 2019, hundreds of thousands of women demonstrated for equality and against violence all across Switzerland. Which of the concerns expressed should the newly-elected parliament take up?

BDP

  • Equal wage for equal work: there should be no disparity between the genders.

  • It is imperative that family and career are made more compatible.

  • Paternity leave is needed desperately. The BDP believes parental leave would be even better.

CVP

  • Wage equality between men and women. It is a necessity for a society which invests in and demands education for all that women are working and integrated.

  • The CVP demands the promotion of flexible working hours: part-time work and flexible working hours make it easier to get back to work.

  • End discrimination of women in social services. Care work and low-wage jobs put women in unfavourable positions when they retire – it is imperative that there are social compensatory measures.

  • Better protection against abuse and violence against women.

FDP

  • Even today, many women still need to decide between their career and children, or they are unable to work as much as they’d like to. Tax deductions to cover costs for external child care are needed as an added incentive to work.

  • More flexible working hours are needed for people working from home as the inflexible Employment Act comes from the industrial age.

  • With regard taxes, the FDP demands that the high progression for dual-income couples is replaced by individual taxation.

GLP

  • Gender equality and equal treatment for all family and lifestyle models is a matter of course for the GLP.

  • This includes securing equal wage for equal work and equal treatment in tax and social security law.

  • Particularly key to this are the introduction of individual taxation and the abolition of coordination deductions for pension funds.

Green Party

The Greens champion a liberal society which enables women and men to have equal lives in material independence and freely-chosen roles. This requires:

  • the implementation of wage equality

  • social security for care work

  • parental leave based on the European model

  • better protections against domestic violence

  • fighting the double discrimination against migrant women

SVP

  • Violence against women has a name: non-integration. That’s why immigration should be limited.

  • Adherence to local rules and values must be unambiguously demanded of any migrants already in Switzerland.

SP

The SP calls for a gender equality policy offensive:

  • parental leave of a total of 38 weeks, entitlement to part-time work, and better protection against dismissal for young parents

  • Free childcare facilities for families with low or mid-range incomes

  • Advance payment of alimony for all

  • Care time, care allowances and part-time work for family caregivers

  • High fines for wage discrimination

  • External contact points and higher compensation for sexual harassment in the workplace

Healthcare costs and health insurance premiums are going up year on year in Switzerland. What are the three key measures for counteracting this trend?

BDP

  • Increasing the personal responsibility of the patients, either through integrated care models or by effectively increasing franchise and excess.
  • Promoting uniform funding for inpatient and outpatient care. Premium payers are too heavily burdened in the current system.
  • Make use of digitalisation: modern means of communication should be used more. It’s past time that we had electronic patient files.

CVP

  • The CVP is calling for healthcare costs to be curbed with a popular initiative: it ensures that premiums may not increase by more than wages do. Unnecessary treatments should be avoided in order to cut costs while maintaining quality.
  • Avoid expensive and harmful overtreatment. Outdated and too-high tariffs should finally be adjusted.
  • Promote outpatient procedures while simultaneously reducing hospital capacities.

FDP

  • There isn’t one miracle cure solution – everyone needs to contribute and lots of measures will be necessary Quality and service costs, for example, need to be comparable for patients.
  • Expensive false incentives such as arms races among cantonal hospitals should be eliminated.
  • We as patients also need to increase our awareness of the costs of our own healthcare. Ideas such as tax-exempt care savings accounts like in the Third Pillar have potential.

GLP

  • The GLP wants a healthcare system that ensures healthcare provision for the entire population while simultaneously promoting personal responsibility and prevention.
  • We are committed to freedom of choice and competition. False incentives must be eliminated. This requires, among other things, uniform funding for inpatient and outpatient services. Quantitative wage incentives for doctors working in hospitals should be abolished.
  • Patient rights must be increased and the information about them improved.

Green Party

  • The priority is improving basic provision, prevention and coordination. Through public health insurance, for example.
  • Increased promotion and funding for projects, meaningfully linking consultation, prevention, treatment and care with each other.
  • The antisocial per-capita premiums need correcting for as long as they remain in place. The Greens are committed to reducing the price of social premiums and are fighting for corresponding savings measures.

SVP

  • Increased personal responsibility is needed in general. For example, a symbolic cash fee should be charged for outpatient GP or hospital visits for each new treatment. This amount should be twice as much in outpatient clinics as in free medical practices.
  • The reckless expansion of the range of mandatory services – e.g. the assumption of costs for fertility conservation measures for cancer measures – should stop.

SP

  • Handy admission control in the outpatient sector: the cantons must be able to control the opening of medical practices according to demands.
  • Reducing the cost of medication by introducing a reference price system and creating transparency regarding research costs in the pharmaceuticals sector and forming factory selling prices.
  • Introducing tariff models, fostering cooperation between the service providers and coordinated care (revision Tarmed).

Well-integrated foreigners have hardly any co-determination rights in Switzerland. This also gives rise to criticism of the voting rights afforded to those Swiss abroad who get a say without having ever been in Switzerland. Should foreigners who have lived in Switzerland for at least ten years be given the right to vote?

 

BDP

NO
The right to vote is an important part of citizenship.

CVP

NO
The right to vote should continue to be linked to citizenship. This ensures that the necessary social and politic integration takes place.

FDP

Neither YES nor NO
This should be left to the cantons or municipalities.

GLP

YES
Foreigners should be able to have their say, at least on a cantonal and communal level.

Green Party

YES
Anyone who lives here should, of course, also be able to vote here. The Greens have already launched appropriate initiatives in several cantons.

SVP

NO
There are rights and obligations as Swiss people. But you should get the right to vote after becoming naturalised.

SP

YES
It is a scandal and deeply unworthy of a democracy that a quarter of the resident population have no political rights in Switzerland.

 

A popular initiative submitted this summer wants to limit munitions exports. Should there be a ban on the export of munitions to countries at war or countries stricken by civil war?

BDP

YES
The BDP is one of the authors of the initiative. The Federal Council should no longer make decisions about exports on its own. Dialogue and broad support are necessary – even for long-term interests of the defence industry.

CVP

NO
The CVP is committed to the Swiss defence industry. Modern export regulations are sufficient and severely limit the export of munitions to countries at war or stricken by civil war.

FDP

NO
A blanket ban goes too far.

GLP

YES
The GLP is a member of the initiative committee.

Green Party

YES
The Greens want a total ban on the export of munitions. Switzerland should uses its special role as a neutral country with a humanitarian tradition to actively pursue a policy of peace.

SVP

NO
National defence in Switzerland depends on a domestic defence industry, and this in turn depends on export opportunities. There are already strict regulations to follow.

SP

YES
Switzerland has something better than weapons to offer regions ravaged by violence. It depends on resolving conflicts through negotiations for its own security.

Air travel takes a heavy toll on the climate. Should Switzerland introduce a CO2 fee for plane tickets?

BDP

YES
The climate needs to be protected. Sources of major emissions should not escape responsibility.

CVP

YES
Flights are too cheap nowadays. The air travel industry should endeavour to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

FDP

YES
But the fee should be economically viable and the majority should be redistributed back to the people. The rest should go into a climate fund for innovations.

GLP

YES
We’ve been submitting proposals to this effect to the National Council for quite some time.

Green Party

YES
The air travel industry also needs to make a contribution to climate protection. Every country neighbouring Switzerland already charges such a fee.

SVP

NO
Duties charged in Switzerland do nothing for the climate. Flights will despite happen in spite of an “emissions fee”. It would be unacceptable if only the rich could afford to fly in the future.

SP

YES
A steering tax on plane tickets should vary depending on the distance of the flight and cabin class. The CO2 fee should be repaid to the people in full.

Which individual climate policy measures should be prioritised in the next legislature?

BDP

  • A binding domestic target is needed for CO2 emissions.

  • An ambitious target of a maximum warming of 1.5 degrees must be agreed.

  • An offensive for energy-efficient buildings is urgently necessary.

  • A sustainable financial centre is needed.

  • A decision to put an end to fossil fuels must be made and a deadline set.

CVP

  • The CVP is calling for an effective CO2 law. The ambitious goals of the Paris Agreement regarding CO2 reduction should largely be achieved domestically. That’s why we’re calling for innovation, investment in Switzerland and the strengthening of our business locations.

  • The energy revolution must be implemented consistently. Domestic renewable energies must be able to close the shortfall resulting from the loss of nuclear power.

  • The CVP is calling for the development of clean tech. We are committed to the recycling economy and support the manufacturing of regional and seasonal products, Products should be manufactured in such a way that they can be recycled.

FDP

  • Climate policy measures must be tackled in the next legislature through the total revision of the CO2 law. That way we can make sure that an effective solution package capable of securing a majority can be put together to help Switzerland achieve its climate objectives by 2030. Individual projects are not productive.

  • Measures regarding traffic and buildings are the priority. They are the greatest cause of greenhouse gas emissions. Both areas need a clear path to reduction through CO2 thresholds and other measures.

  • For industry, the development of a very well-functioning target agreement system is key.

GLP

  • Switzerland must fulfil the Paris Climate Agreement. To do this, we need an ambitious CO2 reduction goal domestically and quality assurance for compensation abroad.

  • Above all, effective measures are needed – for road traffic and air travel, as well as buildings. This ecological turnaround is possible and a big opportunity for our economy.

  • The consistent, rapid transition from funding to steering makes subsidies and many regulations superfluous.

  • Cause-related energy prices improve the productivity of energy efficiency measures and ensures the implementation of long-existing clean tech solutions. This shall result in the emergence of a huge export industry in Switzerland.

Green Party

  • Strengthening existing measures like the programme for the energy efficiency of buildings, the social CO2 fee on fuels or the efficiency of new cars.

  • New measures such as the inclusion of the financial centre (gradual withdrawal of investments in fossil energies), agriculture and the food industry (strengthening organic farming), as well as emissions produced abroad through imported products.

  • Sufficient money for financing climate protection measures in the poor states to the south must be provided by the sources of pollution.

SVP

  • Domestic food production, and thus farmers and their families, must be boosted. Local and seasonal production and purchasing preserves resources.

  • The elimination of polluting traffic jams and the liquefaction of traffic in cities and agglomerations have contributed a great deal to improving the air.

SP

  • In order to bring the net emission of greenhouse gases down to zero by 2050, massive investments will need to be made in increasing energy efficiency and the production of renewable energy in Switzerland (with both private and public funds).

  • For the renovation of buildings and installation of solar power systems, a total investment level of 10 billion Swiss francs based on public funds should be the aim.

  • Steering taxes on fossil fuels should be gradually increased and extended to the air travel industry.

  • A public “climate bond” system should make it possible to break down existing barriers to investment by private individuals and businesses by granting interest-free loans.

 

For Swiss people living in EU countries, the relationship between Switzerland and the EU is paramount. Is limiting immigration more important than preserving the bilateral agreements with the EU?

BDP

The BDP is against Switzerland joining the EU. But that doesn’t change the fact the Switzerland has close economic and social ties with the countries in the EU. The bilateral approach we have taken is good for Switzerland. This has been confirmed by the people of Switzerland many times. Some of the agreements are good, some are criticised, others need revision. It would certainly be extremely dangerous to jeopardise this path and our prosperity because of unnecessary initiatives to limit immigration.

CVP

No other partner has contributed as much to the prosperity of Switzerland as the EU. The EU also benefits from Switzerland. We want a relationship with the EU that is positive for both Switzerland and the EU. For the CVP, it is clear: The bilateral agreements are not negotiable. The people have agreed multiple times. Freedom of movement in Europe, the ability to sell our goods and services in the EU without any downsides, the exchange of knowledge – we all benefit from it on a daily basis. The CVP has always spoken in favour of the bilateral approach with the EU and repelled isolationist attacks. That’s why the CVP rejects the SVP’s so-called termination initiative. An end to the freedom of movement for people would have grave consequences for the economy, research and jobs in Switzerland. All other market access agreements and the research agreement with the EU would cease.

FDP

The bilateral approach guarantees us custom access to the EU internal market without having to join the EU. It has brought the people of Switzerland jobs, growth and prosperity, and enables hundreds of thousands of people to live and work in the EU/EFTA. The termination initiative by the conservative isolationists is a direct attack on this successful approach. It’s important that Switzerland is able to continue counting on highly-qualified workers from abroad. At the same time, however, the FDP takes the concerns of many Swiss people regarding immigration seriously. So, we want to take a firm stand against abuses and negative effects: Social tourism must be combated, family reunions in the event of immigration from third countries must be restricted, and asylum abuses need to be remedied.

GLP

We don’t just want to preserve the bilateral treaties, we want to develop them further. The GLP is the only party that stood up for a framework agreement by conviction from the very beginning.

Green Party

Switzerland is part of Europe. As a European party, the Greens are committed to a neighbourly relationship between Switzerland and the EU. The bilateral approach benefits the citizens of Switzerland and everyone in the EU. We want a boost to collaboration, particularly when it comes to education, research and protecting the environment. But it is also clear that a good neighbourhood needs reliable rules. A framework agreement with the EU is imperative for the continued development of the bilateral approach. However, openness towards Europe is only capable of securing a majority in a referendum if the accompanying freedom of movement measures are not weakened. To get better protection against tax dumping from the EU, Switzerland should finally make progress with tax office assistance and the measures against tax dumping.

SVP

The management and control of immigration is essential. Switzerland has taken in over 1.1 million immigrants since the implementation of freedom of movement for people. The pressure on wages and jobs is noticeable, especially for those over the age of 50. That’s why the SVP wants to limit the right to free migration with its Limitation Initiative. The excellent mutual trade relations with the EU should be maintained.

SP

The excellent achievements of freedom of movement – the ability to live and work throughout Europe – absolutely must be preserved. European integration is part of the foundation of peace and prosperity in Europe and in Switzerland. However, this cannot be about companies recruiting as many employees from abroad as possible. The shortage of skilled workers must instead be countered through massive investment in education. The pool of suitable workers will also increase if family and career become more compatible and men and women finally get the same wages. Job market integration should be increased with additional measures for catch-up education for migrants and additional protections for the over 50s. All this should counter the economy’s inclination to only search for workers abroad.

The urban sprawl is changing the landscape in Switzerland. Should landscape conservation be increased, for example through stricter regulations on building outside of existing construction zones?

BDP

NO
The urban sprawl is already being combated. In 2013, the people of Switzerland approved the revised Spatial Planning Act. This is now being implemented by the cantons and municipalities.

CVP

NO
It’s right to make better use of the available settlement areas and to define building zones in moderation. The Spatial Planning Act combats the urban sprawl effectively and is steering settlement development inward.

FDP

YES
The constant expansion of exemptions to construction outside construction zones needs to stop.

GLP

YES
The GLP supports appropriate reform.

Green Party

YES
The construction activity outside of construction zones means we’re losing valuable arable land and near-natural habitats for biodiversity.

SVP

NO
The electorate rejected stricter regulations by voting against the urban sprawl initiative at the start of the year. To improve landscape conservation, we need to curb excessive immigration.

SP

YES
The amount of buildings outside of construction zones should not be allowed to increase. New buildings should only be allowed if they are necessary for farming. Conversion options should be restricted.

Species of animals which had once been eradicated in Switzerland are returning. However, the presence of wolves, salmon and bears is causing tension. Should the safeguarding provisions for these large predators be relaxed?

BDP

YES
If the population doesn’t match up to local possibilities, protections should be loosened on a case-by-case basis.

CVP

Neither YES nor NO
The CVP supports relaxing protections for wolves and beavers, but opposes relaxing protections for salmon.

FDP

YES
The FDP largely supports targeted adjustments to the safeguarding provisions for regulating the wolf population. We oppose a general relaxation of safeguarding provisions.

GLP

NO.
The GLP is actively campaigning for a referendum against this firearms legislation.

Green Party

NO
The Swiss Confederation should invest in preventative measures such as herd protection, which enable wild animals and livestock to better coexist.

SVP

YES
Switzerland is too densely populated to be suitable for certain large predators.

SP

NO
The SP opposes the weakening of protections for salmon, beavers, wolves, etc. We do not accept that wild animals and birds should be decimated as a precaution – without having caused harm.

How should it be ensured that Swiss nationals abroad can actually exercise their political rights – particularly the right to vote and elect?

BDP

Electronic voting is vital – particularly for Swiss nationals abroad. Of course, the safety of e-voting needs to be guaranteed to ensure that results cannot be falsified.

CVP

The CVP has, via a motion in the Council of States by Filippo Lombardi, already called for cantons to be obligated to provide all eligible Swiss abroad the option of electronic voting (e-voting) as part of a federal solution.

FDP

E-voting is essential for Swiss nationals abroad to exercise their political rights. Voting papers often arrive too late and postal channels are unreliable. In cantons which have successfully trialled e-voting, participation by Swiss nationals abroad was significantly higher. The FDP has always endorsed e-voting for Swiss nationals abroad. We take security concerns seriously and are monitoring the pragmatic “security before speed” approach with a view to introducing it domestically. We greatly regret setbacks on the part of the technical providers directly affecting Swiss nationals abroad in an election year.

GLP

On the one hand, it’s important that voting papers and election materials are sent out earlier. On the other, the GLP support e-voting solutions for Swiss nationals abroad. However, we oppose putting electronic voting into general use at the moment due to security concerns.

Green Party

“Fifth Switzerland” numbers three quarters of a million people. They are important ambassadors for the democratic culture of Switzerland, and should be able to actively exercise their political rights. Due to documents arriving too late in many countries or not even being sent, not everyone is able to participate in voting and elections. That is unacceptable for the Greens. As no tamper-proof e-voting system is currently available, electronic distribution should be trialled as an interim format. This would make it possible to deliver documents on time via the internet.

SVP

Swiss nationals abroad are able to exercise their political rights as they always have been, primarily through postal voting.

SP

The SP has been calling for the implementation of a secure e-voting system for Swiss nationals abroad at the very least for a while. Setbacks are all the more regrettable. As e-voting cannot be implemented quickly in every canton, optimisations for the current system need to be tested: centralised dispatch by the State Chancellery or the capital of a canton – as is done today by the city of Zürich for the canton of Zürich – instead of by each individual municipality; dispatching documents by electronic means and providing the option to vote in person or by person at a consulate.

Swiss people living abroad have little chance of being elected to parliament. Having their own, separate constituency would significantly improve their chances of being elected. Should a separate constituency be welcomed?

BDP

NO
We don’t consider the current electoral chances of Swiss people living abroad to be any lower than those of Swiss people living in Switzerland.

CVP

NO
Swiss nationals abroad have equivalent legal status to their compatriots when it comes to representation in the National Council. Hurdles to exercising the right to vote are what need remedying (support for e-voting).

FDP

NO
“Quotas” or constituencies for individual groups contradict the political structure of Switzerland and the principles of its democracy.

GLP

Neither YES nor NO
The GLP does not currently have a position on this issue.

Green Party

YES
“Fifth Switzerland” needs political representation so that its special interests and living conditions are taken into account.

SVP

NO
The cantons play an important role in the federalist structure of Switzerland. That’s why they should be kept as the constituencies for National Council elections.

SP

YES
The SP has been calling for this for a while. The examples of Italy, France, Portugal and other countries show that this can be implemented easily.

Swiss nationals abroad are an ever-expanding electoral group. Why should Swiss citizens living abroad vote for your party?

BDP

The BDP is a calm and solutions-oriented political party for all Swiss nationals, regardless of where they live. We see Switzerland as a cosmopolitan country which should have the best-possible relations with other countries. This includes having a good understanding with the EU, which is not only linked to us economically, but also culturally and through our shared values. The BDP is committed to preserving these links – and thus preserving our and your prosperity.

CVP

The CVP is keeping Switzerland together – even “Fifth Switzerland”. The CVP has consistently championed the concerns of Swiss nationals abroad for years. The creation of a Swiss Abroad Act goes back a parliamentary initiative of the CVP. We’re also upholding access to means of payment, especially Swiss bank accounts and credit cards from Swiss banks. The CVP is also campaigning for the introduction of e-voting, which would make it easier for Swiss nationals abroad to vote and participate in elections. The security of the system is top priority. The CVP is also fighting discrimination in the recruitment of Swiss dual nationals living abroad. We support federal financial aid for the foundation of more Swiss schools abroad.

FDP

The FDP consistently and constructively advocates an open and networked Switzerland. Half a million Swiss nationals currently live in the EU or in EFTA countries. The bilateral treaties and, in particular, the agreement on the free movement of people form the legal basis for the biographies of these people. We strongly oppose the unholy alliance of left and right-wing isolationists. Maintaining and developing the bilateral approach are key for the FDP.

GLP

The Green Liberals stand for an open and networked Switzerland. As a result, we actively support the continued development of bilateral treaties with the EU through a framework agreement. We also stand for free trade and an active foreign policy that supports peace, democracy, rule of law, environmental protection and human rights.

Green Party

The Greens are in more than 100 countries and are committed to preserving global livelihoods, fair trade, universal basic rights and a climate of respect and openness. We promote climate protection across the world and want to preserve biodiversity and food sovereignty through sustainable farming. The Greens stand for bridges instead of walls: we are committed to a society of peace without discrimination and exclusion.

SVP

Many Swiss nationals abroad already vote for the SVP. They have a clear idea of an intact, free Switzerland and are aware of the direct comparisons with the challenges in other countries. The SVP cares for Switzerland and is committed to its customs, culture and the associated values.

SP

The SP advocates an open, supportive and ecological Switzerland with good, solid relations with the EU. We’ve been promoting an institutional agreement regarding wage protection for a while. Switzerland stands by the freedom of movement of people, as well as good work and education for all. There’s a lot still to do for equality between men and women. Switzerland must also multiply its efforts to counteract global warming and to achieve the objectives of the Paris Climate Agreement.

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