Swiss citizens are only days away from going to the polls in the upcoming federal election. While Swiss electoral participating tends relatively high, a large percentage of the electorate - non-citizens - are excluded.
As The Local have discussed extensively recently, Switzerland is one of the most restrictive countries in the world when it comes to foreigner voting rights. The right to vote is only afforded to citizens, meaning that will be a minimum ten-year wait - a wait which is sometimes longer.
As a result, one in four adult residents of Switzerland does not have the right to vote.
Perhaps surprisingly, a majority of our readers told us that they do indeed have a right to vote in the country.
All in all, 56.4 percent of readers said they do have the right to vote in Switzerland, compared with 43.6 percent who didn’t.
Which issues matter most?
Last week, we published a comparative look at the five major Swiss political parties to see where they stood on the issues considered to be the most important to Swiss residents: immigration, climate change/the environment, healthcare costs, rights of foreigners to vote and pensions/social issues.
This list came from the annual Swiss Worry Barometer, which lists the biggest concerns of Swiss residents. We wanted however to reach out to our most important resource - our readers - to find out what you were most concerned about in the lead up to the election.
By and large, our readers agreed with the five worries listed. Just over one in four (25.6 percent) said that climate change was their biggest concern, followed by increasing healthcare costs (20.5 percent) and foreigners voting rights (17.9 per cent).
There was a tie for fourth place, with 15.4 percent of respondents saying that pensions/social security alongside immigration or refugees were the areas of most concern.
In total, 5.1 of respondents ticked the other category. When given the chance to elaborate, the economy was the major issue - while one respondent told us “Swiss neutrality and independence from the EU” was the most important consideration.
Climate change and the environment
While immigration has faded somewhat from importance this year, much of the slack has been picked up by concerns surrounding climate change and the environment. This has the Greens forecast to win big.
Our readers agreed, with one in four respondents telling us that climate change was their most important issue ahead of the poll.
The tone changed somewhat when asked about what is perhaps the most controversial environment policy announcement made ahead of the election: imposing a tax or quota on domestic flights within the country.
A clear majority - 56.4 percent - said they did not support imposing a tax or a quota on flights, viewing retaining the status quo as the best decision.
A little under a third - 28.2 percent - told us they supported placing a tax on domestic flights, while 15.4 percent were in favour of a quota.
All major Swiss parties, except for the SVP, have indicated they support a tax increase.
Healthcare costs continue to rise in Switzerland - and have grabbed our readers’ attention. With several parties proposing a ‘cost brake’ to prevent premiums from rising higher, this is perhaps the most popular policy to be considered ahead of the upcoming vote.
More than four in five - 81.1 percent - support putting in place a cost brake.
The Christian Democrats have made the cost brake their signature policy, while a measure is also supported by the Greens and the Social Democrats.
The SVP have proposed cutting funds from development and foreign aid programs to reduce the tax burden on middle-class Swiss, while the Liberals have not provided a policy on the issue.
Pension and social policy
Another area where our readers largely found themselves in agreement regarded social welfare policy, with around one in four (72.2 percent) concerned about the security of their pension.
Just 27.8 percent said they were not concerned.
As we reported yesterday, Switzerland’s media is becoming less diverse - and our readers had their fair share of complaints about its coverage of the Swiss elections.
One said that “Discrimination against EU nationals” was a major concern which was not being addressed by the political parties, while two others said that more focus should be had on the economy and economic interests.
A handful of responses also criticised the various media sources - The Local included - for having a right or left-wing bias in the issues they sought to cover.
If you could tell Swiss politicians to change one thing, what would it be?
Finally, we asked our readers what they would change if they could change just one thing.
While the majority of the responses wanted a greater focus on climate policy - from increasing the fuel tax to improving plastic recycling - we also received a number of valuable other responses.
One respondent directed his or her ire against not only politicians but Swiss banks, saying “To Politicians & Central Bankers: Never forget that your best intentions typically create more problems; most of the time doing nothing is best, especially regarding monetary policy!”
“Reduce speeding tickets” and “be more confrontational” were a couple of other unusual responses.
Another said that improving workforce outcomes for older people was a primary concern, particularly as the retirement age is being raised.
“The politicians raise the age of retirement, but they don't make lows which help over 50s to be employed. There is a window of 15 years in which the people over 50 struggle to find a job and to get employed. (It) is like a natural elimination of "old" people.”
Finally, one of our respondents exercised their frustrations with multi-lingual Switzerland, saying that Switzerland’s delicate balance of languages should be phased out in favour of English.
“Establishing English as a "lingua franca" between cantons. Introduce legislation so that English may become an official language of Switzerland.”
That idea might not go down well with our Swiss hosts.