The Swiss vote on Sunday, November 28, on the Covid-19 law, which made it possible to create the health pass, at the end of a stormy election campaign. A sign of unusual tensions in Switzerland, the police blocked the square in front of the seat of government and Parliament in Bern on Sunday in anticipation of demonstrations.
According to the polls, however, the population should accept the law, even if the antivax and antipasse have been able to make their voice heard in recent weeks, by organizing numerous demonstrations, sometimes banned and punctuated by violence, without commonality, however, with the riots in the Netherlands and Guadeloupe.
The rise of tensions in Switzerland, a country renowned for its culture of dialogue and compromise, where referendums are organized several times a year in a peaceful atmosphere, had the effect of an electric shock. Many politicians, including the Minister of Health, Alain Berset, who for two years has come to embody the fight against Covid-19 in the Alpine country, have been threatened with death and are now placed under police protection.
This referendum comes as the new Omicron variant, detected in South Africa, qualified as “Worrying” by the World Health Organization, has plunged the planet into a state of alert.
Delay in vaccination coverage
The Swiss also vote on Sunday on a popular nursing initiative, which calls on the confederation to guarantee a “Appropriate remuneration” care services.
The votes come as Switzerland, like other countries, has experienced an outbreak of infections since mid-October due to the Delta variant. But, contrary to what has been observed in other countries, the government has refused for the moment to toughen the control measures at the national level, arguing that the occupation of intensive care beds by patients suffering from Covid-19 was relatively low to date (20%).
“The situation is under control for the moment. If the cases were to increase exponentially, we would have to adapt as we go “Mr. Berset said at a press conference on Wednesday. However, the government asked the cantons to take measures and called on the population to respect basic health measures.
With a rate of fully vaccinated people of around 65%, Switzerland lags behind in vaccination coverage compared to other countries in Western Europe.
This is the second time in less than six months that the population must vote on the Covid-19 law. In June, citizens supported it with 60% of the vote in a first referendum. But the law having been modified, in order to give more latitude to the authorities to fight the pandemic and allow the establishment of the Covid certificate, the antipasse decided to launch a second referendum.
“Extreme and unnecessary hardening”
The referendum committee refuses this “Extreme and unnecessary tightening of the Covid law” and in particular denounces the Covid-19 certificate, “Which implicitly induces a forced vaccination”. For Agnès Aédo, spokesperson for Friends of the Constitution, one of the groups behind the referendum, this law “Will create a two-speed society”.
All political movements, with the exception of the right-wing populist UDC, the country’s largest party, support the law. “Suddenly we’re supposed to be divided between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated. We must refuse this split “, denounced the president of the SVP, Marco Chiesa, who calls for “Restore freedom, fundamental rights and normality”.
The government argued that the certificate facilitates travel and stays abroad, allows events to be held and is “Available to all”because people who have not been vaccinated and have not had the virus can be tested.
According to the latest survey by the Gfs.bern institute, carried out on November 7, 61% of people wishing to participate in the vote then supported the Covid-19 law, and 67% the nursing initiative. In the latter case, as it is a popular initiative, a majority of the cantons is also required for the text to be adopted.
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