Sunday, June 5, 2005
Switzerland is voting today on their quarterly federal referenda over same-sex partnerships and the Schengen/Dublin treaty. Both proposals were popular initiatives made by the Swiss people.
The first question is whether same-sex partnership should be legalised throughout the country. Already the cantons of Geneva and Zürich allow same-sex partnerships, however this proposal will cover the country including the conservative north-eastern cantons of Graubünden and Appenzell. In fact Appenzell Innerrhoden only allowed women the vote at cantonal level in 1990 by the Federal Tribunal of Switzerland.
Essentially, this proposal will allow gays and lesbians the right to have joint taxes, pensions and inheritance. To qualify, partners must both live together and formally commit themselves six months in advance to running a household and supporting and aiding one another.
The second proposal will make Switzerland be a member of the Schengen treaty and participate in the “open-borders” scheme. Supporters say it would encourage tourism and make visiting much easier, especially after the row over Swiss-German border a few months ago. Together with the Dublin treaty, it would make Switzerland join a bilateral agreement to stop asylum seekers having to seek asylum in Switzerland after claiming asylum in an agreement country such as Germany or France.
Opponents say this proposal will set Switzerland on a slippery slope into the European Union, not give Switzerland the right to its own borders and compromise the country’s strict and engrained neutrality.
Out of the big 4 main parties, the centre-left Social Democrats, the liberal-right Free Democrats and the centre-right Christian Democrats have said yes to both proposals. However, the populist-right Swiss People’s Party have said no to both proposals
Results will start being available today in the early evening.