Zurich to vote on improving naturalisation requirements

On Sunday, May 15th, Zurich voters will head to the polls to vote on making naturalisation easier for the estimated 350,000 foreigners who live there, along with three other canton-specific questions. Here's what you need to know.

Zurich voters will cast their ballots on easier naturalisation. Photo by ANDY MUELLER / EQ IMAGES / AFP
Zurich voters will cast their ballots on easier naturalisation. Photo by ANDY MUELLER / EQ IMAGES / AFP

Sunday, May 15th, sees the latest round of Swiss referenda. 

On a federal level, three questions are up for consideration: Netflix and streaming, organ donation rules and Frontex. More information on these votes are available at the following links. 

READ MORE: What is the ‘Netflix vote’ and how could it change TV in Switzerland?

EXPLAINED: What Switzerland’s ‘organ donation’ vote means for you

Frontex: How Switzerland’s ‘border vote’ on May 15th could impact travel

There are also dozens of referendum questions being asked at a cantonal level all across the country. 

What is on the ballot in Zurich on May 15th?

In addition to the above federal votes, there will be several other issues put to the voters in the canton of Zurich on Sunday. 

Perhaps the most relevant for Local readers is the referendum on improving the naturalisation process, including making the system uniform across each of the canton’s 162 municipalities. 

Detailed information is available at the following link. 

EXPLAINED: How Zurich wants to make naturalisation easier

Zurich voters will also decide on lowering the voting age from 18 to 16. 

This would make it only the second canton to have lowered the voting age from 18 to 16, following on from Glarus, who did so in 2007. 

Referendum: Zurich to vote on lower voting age

Another question for voters to consider is putting the commitment to curb climate change in the cantonal constitution. 

According to the Zurich government “the planned new constitutional article defines the goal of greenhouse gas neutrality, or “net zero” for short.”

“It gives the canton and the municipalities a binding mandate to work towards limiting climate change and its effects. It also defines the fields of action for measures and creates the basis for the promotion of suitable technologies, materials and processes.”

The fourth question for Zurich voters to consider looks to expand parental leave. 

Currently, mothers are entitled to 14 weeks maternity leave and fathers two weeks in Switzerland. 

Under the Zurich plan, both parents would be entitled to 18 weeks of parental leave, provided they live in the canton of Zurich. 

Parents who work in Zurich but do not live in Zurich will be entitled to 14 weeks each, rather than 18. 

The plan will be funded by additional employer and employee contributions. 

More information about all of the questions can be found here (in German). 

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Zurich mandates organic food for hospitals, schools and cafeterias

Hospitals, schools, canteens and a range of other venues in Zurich will need to ensure the majority of their food is organic, after the council passed an initiative.

Zurich mandates organic food for hospitals, schools and cafeterias

The initiative, passed on Wednesday by 71 votes to 41, stipulates that at least 50 percent of the offerings must be organic. 

It applies to retirement and care centres, hospitals, day care centres, schools, canteens and cafeterias. 

QUIZ: Would you pass Zurich’s Swiss citizenship test?

Environment and Health Director Andreas Hauri acknowledged that there may be some problems in converting over to organic food, but said he was “convinced we can still increase the proportion”. 

The city said it will now begin to examine how it can boost the proportion of organic foods to the required levels. 

The city’s nutrition strategy already calls for a greater amount of food from the surrounding region, but had previously been silent on the amount of organic food that should be included. 

While the initiative passed, there was some opposition from the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP). 

The SVP said the change was “far removed from decency and reality”, arguing that it sent the wrong signals to developing countries. 

READ MORE: Will Switzerland be able to feed itself in the future?

The initiative is “an affront to people in poor countries who do not know how to feed themselves” said the SVP’s Johann Widmer. 

The Free Democratic Party (FDP) also opposed the change, saying it was unclear how the new standards would be implemented. 

Martina Zürcher asked how the 50 percent requirement should be measured. 

“In kilograms? In francs?” she said.