Swiss favour ‘burqa ban’, poll shows

A clear majority of Switzerland's voters favour introducing a nationwide prohibition agains wearing face-covering garments in public spaces, known as a "burqa ban", a poll showed Friday.

Swiss favour 'burqa ban', poll shows
Swiss will vote on banning burkas in public. Photo by AFP


According to the Tamedia poll of 15,000 eligible voters, a full 63 percent of those questioned said they would vote yes or were considering voting yes in an upcoming popular vote on the ban, the Tages Anzeiger daily reported.

The Swiss are set to vote on whether they want to ban face coverings in public on March 7, when they will also vote on a range of other issues as part of the country's famous direct democratic system.

The text does not mention Muslim veils explicitly, stating only that “no one shall cover their face in public, nor in areas accessible to the public or in areas where services are ordinarily accessible to all.”

But the proposed ban, which has been opposed by the Swiss government, is widely seen as targeting burqas and other face-covering Muslim veils.

The initiative also makes several exceptions, including in “places of worship”, and, vitally in these pandemic times, for “health reasons”.

The Egerkingen committee which presented the initiative is heavily backed by the populist right-wing Swiss People's Party, but some left-leaning politicians have also joined the campaign in the name of protecting women's rights.

Swiss Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter announced this week that the government opposed the nationwide ban, stressing that women wearing full body-covering veils were rarely seen in Switzerland.

She stressed that most women seen in the country wearing such veils are tourists.

The justice minister also insisted the issue should be left up to Switzerland's 26 cantons.

Two cantons, Ticino and St.Gallen, have already introduced such bans, while three other cantons, Zurich, Solothurn and Glarus, have rejected doing so in recent years. 

The government and parliament are backing a counter proposal, which would require people to reveal their faces to the authorities for identification purposes, for instance at borders or on public transport.

Fines of up to 10,000 Swiss francs ($11,300, 9,300 euros) could be given to anyone who refused, according to the counter proposal, which will enter into force if the Egerkingen initiative is rejected. 

Member comments

  1. …and a clear sign of ignorance of a too vast majority. A vote that is profoundly subjective and that has no basis in real life.

  2. One would think that the last year has proven that the society doesn’t come crumbling down even if we don’t see each others faces.

  3. Switzerland is an open country. And to not allow someone to wear what they want is antithetical to our values. But I wonder if this is about more about reciprocal fairness. If our wives and daughters were allowed to go to Islamic countries without the obligation of covering the head, then perhaps we might feel more charitable towards women coming here with only their eyes showing.

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Merkel’s conservatives suffer heavy losses in two German state elections

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative party suffered heavy losses in two key regional elections Sunday, early estimates showed, as voters vented anger over pandemic setbacks and a face-mask procurement scandal.

Merkel's conservatives suffer heavy losses in two German state elections
Baden-Württemberg state leader Winfried Kretschmann of the Greens voting on Sunday. Photo: DPA

The votes in the southwestern states of Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate were being closely watched as a barometer of the national mood ahead of a general election on September 26th – when Merkel’s successor will be chosen.

In wealthy Baden-Württemberg, Merkel’s centre-right CDU was set for its worst-ever result at 23 percent, according to exit polls by public broadcasters ARD and ZDF.

READ ALSO: How elections in one state could show what’s to come in post-Merkel Germany

As in the 2016 vote, the Green party took first place again, garnering more than 31 percent.

Baden-Württemberg is Germany’s only state run by a Green premier, Winfried Kretschmann, who has been in office since 2011.

He could now choose to maintain his current coalition government with the CDU, or build a new one with the centre-left SPD and the pro-business FDP, which each took around 10 percent of votes.

What happened in Rhineland-Palatinate election?

In neighbouring Rhineland-Palatinate, the CDU placed second with 25-26 percent of votes, down from almost 32 percent in the previous regional election.

The centre-left SPD shed some support but held onto first place, at 33-34 percent, according to the estimates.

Malu Dreyer, Social Democrat state leader of Rhineland Palatinate. Photo: DPA

The result paves the way for popular SPD state premier Malu Dreyer to continue governing with the pro-business FDP and the Greens, who more than doubled their score.

READ ALSO: Merkel’s party braced for slap in the face as polls take place in two German states

Because of the pandemic, a higher than usual number of votes were cast by mail, and observers cautioned that the final results could still change as ballots continued to be counted.

If confirmed, the results mark a worrying start for the CDU/CSU to what has been dubbed Germany’s “super election year”.

Merkel’s federal government, which includes the SPD as junior partner, initially won praise at home and abroad for suppressing the first coronavirus wave last spring.

But it has increasingly come under fire over Germany’s sluggish vaccination campaign, a delayed start to free rapid testing, and a resurgence in cases despite months of shutdown.

The CDU and its Bavarian CSU sister party have also been roiled by damaging claims about MPs apparently benefitting financially from face mask deals early on in the pandemic, forcing three lawmakers to step down in recent days.

The mask scandal “weighed heavily on the election fight”, said CDU secretary general Paul Ziemiak.