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Democracy needs participation – also through electronic voting and digital tools

15 September 2022

15 September is the International Day of Democracy. Challenges to Swiss democracy were also discussed at the 98th Congress of the Swiss Abroad in Lugano a month ago. There, it became clear once again that political participation and e-voting are particularly important for the Swiss Abroad.

The International Day of Democracy on 15 September aims to inspire people to examine the state of democratic systems around the world. A living democracy must continuously evolve and it faces new challenges all the time.

Current challenges for the Swiss democracy were the topic of this year's Congress of the Swiss Abroad, which took place in Lugano in August. Around 400 people from more than 40 countries discussed, for example, the political rights of the Swiss Abroad, how to deal with fake news and e-voting for the Fifth Switzerland.

For many years, the Swiss Abroad made very active use of the option to vote electronically. But in 2019 there was a setback: while many cantons made electronic voting possible for the 2015 federal elections, this voting channel was discontinued for the 2019 elections. As a direct consequence, the turnout of Swiss Abroad voters plummeted in some cantons - in Geneva, for example, from 36 to 27 per cent.

The background to the decline: before the 2019 elections, the existing e-voting services were discontinued throughout Switzerland for financial and security reasons. In the meantime, the federal authorities have defined new framework conditions for test runs of e-voting systems. Currently, all hopes rest on the Swiss Post's e-voting system.

The Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA), SwissCommunity, welcomes measures that make it easier for Swiss Abroad to actively exercise their political rights. The OSA is keeping an eye on developments and is committed to the creation of a secure and practicable e-voting system.

The campaign for the Day of Democracy

On 15 September 2022, events are held throughout Switzerland on the topic of democracy. They promote the exchange of ideas among the population on this important characteristic of Switzerland, as well as active participation in Swiss democracy, which is also shaped by around 800,000 Swiss Abroad.