Swiss Confederation: Referendum, 12 February 2017
At stake in this election:
- Switzerland will be voting on three referendums pertaining to the naturalization of third-generation immigrations, the creation of a fund for infrastructure, and the overhaul of the corporate tax code.
Description of government structure:
- Chief of State: President Doris LEUTHARD (1 January 2017)
- Head of Government: President Doris LEUTHARD (1 January 2017)
- Assembly: Switzerland has a bicameral Federal Assembly (Budesversammlung, Assemblee Federale, Assemblea Federale) consisting of the 46-seat Council of States and the 200-seat National Council.
- There are two types of referendums: optional and mandatory. Citizens can launch an optional referendum on any act of parliament by collecting the signatures of 50,000 eligible voters within 100 days. Referendums may also be requested by a minimum of 8 cantons.
- Option referendums are passed by a simple majority vote.
- Referendums are mandatory on constitutional amendments. Changing the law or approving the amendment requires the majority of valid votes case and the majority of cantons.
About the referendum:
- The provisions pertaining to the naturalization process for third generation immigrants and the reform of the corporate tax code are optional referendums contesting legislation. The provision on the creation of a public infrastructure fund is a mandatory referendum because is requires a change to the constitution.
- Immigration: In September 2016, Swiss parliament approved a proposal for an eased naturalization process for third generation immigrants. The current process varies from canton to canton and is considered lengthy, overly extensive, and expensive by critics. An estimated 24,600 foreigners are eligible under the stipulations of the proposal.
- Candidates for the eased procedure must:
- Be Swiss born, between 9-25 years of age, hold a C permit, attended 5 years of regular schooling in Switzerland, be "well integrated," speak one of the four national languages, and be debt-free
- Their parents must have lived in Switzerland for 10 years, attended 5 years of Swiss schooling, and hold a valid residency permit
- At least one grandparent must be Swiss or hold a residence card
- Candidates for the eased procedure must:
- Corporate tax: The OECD announced that the Swiss system of preferential tax rates to multinational corporations is against their policy to establish fair competition and Switzerland has committed to reforming its corporate tax code. The referendum was to whether or not to accept the Swiss government's replacement proposal which would raise overall corporate taxes but offer tax breaks for patents and research and development activities.
- Supporters argued that it would maintain Switzerland's attractiveness to corporations while allowing it to abide by OECD policy. Opponents say it will increase the tax burden on the middle class and the reduction in government revenue would result in a cut in public services.
- Infrastructure: Higher safety and environmental standards and increased traffic has dictated the need for a larger fund for maintenance of public roads. The proposal uses funds from a fossil fuel tax, the sale of motorway stickers, 10% of the oil tax, the vehicle import tax, and a levy on electric vehicles while will be introduced in 2020. These sources are projected to output roughly 3 billion francs annually.
Main provisions in the referendum:
- Federal Decree of 30 September 2016 on the easier naturalization of persons of the third generation of foreigners (BBl 2016 7581), yes or no?
- Bundesbeschluss vom 30. September 2016 über die erleichterte Einbürgerung von Personen der dritten Ausländergeneration (BBl 2016 7581)
- Federal decision of 30 September 2016 on the creation of a fund for national roads and agglomeration transport (BBl 2016 7587), yes or no?
- Bundesbeschluss vom 30. September 2016 über die Schaffung eines Fonds für die Nationalstrassen und den Agglomerationsverkehr (BBl 2016 7587)
- Federal Law of 17 June 2016 on fiscal measures to strengthen the competitiveness of Switzerland as a business location (Corporate Tax Reform Act III) (BBl 2016 4937) yes or no?
- Bundesgesetz vom 17. Juni 2016 über steuerliche Massnahmen zur Stärkung der Wettbewerbsfähigkeit des Unternehmensstandorts Schweiz (Unternehmenssteuerreformgesetz III) (BBl 2016 4937)
Population and number of registered voters:
- Population: 8,179,294 (July 2016)
- Registered Voters: 5,325,848 (2016)
- Female Population: 4,145,195 (July 2016)
- Is Switzerland a signatory to CEDAW: Yes (23 January 1987)
- Has Switzerland ratified CEDAW: Yes (27 March 1997)
- Gender Quota: No
- Female candidates in this election: N/A
- Number of Female Parliamentarians: 73
- Human Development Index Position: 3
- Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI) Categorization: N/A
- Is Switzerland a signatory to CRPD: N/A
- Has Switzerland ratified CRPD: Yes, accession (15 April 2014)
- Population with a disability: 1,218,275
 Calculated using the WHO estimate of 15%