10 things expats in Switzerland need to know about in June 2023
With May done and dusted, people in Switzerland can now look forward to the first official month of summer. Along with the changing of the seasons, there are many other things that residents of the alpine nation need to know about the next 30 days. From referendums and strikes to disruption to flights, here are 10 things to know about June 2023.
1. Rental costs likely to rise on June 1
On June 1, it is highly likely that the Swiss National Bank will raise the reference interest rate on mortgages from 1,25 to 1,5 percent. The move, designed to contain inflation, will mean that a large number of those renting a house or apartment in Switzerland will see their monthly rental costs rise.
According to a report from the Zürcher Kantonalbank, around 54 percent of tenants in Switzerland have rental contracts that are based on the previous reference rate - although this varies wildly by canton. For those people, the Swiss bank estimates that landlords will be able to raise rents by up to 3 percent once the new rate is published.
2. Geneva to ban smoking in a number of public places
As more than half of renters in Switzerland feel a pang in their wallets, the residents of Geneva will also be restricted if they resort to tobacco for relief. From June 1, city authorities will reduce the number of public places where people are allowed to smoke.
Officials in Geneva argued that the measures are designed to reduce the presence of tobacco near places frequented by children, such as at stops for local public transport and schools. You can read more about the new rules here.
3. NATO exercise brings disruption to Zurich Airport
Between June 12 and 23, passengers flying out of Swiss airports should expect major disruption as NATO carries out the largest air training operation in its history. The exercise, called Air Defender 23, will involve 220 aircraft from 24 member states, alongside around 10.000 ground troops.
While the Swiss Army and Air Force will not be participating, and the exercise itself will mostly take place in the skies above Bavaria and the Netherlands, the Federal Office of Civil Aviation has warned that passenger flights will be affected by delays and cancellations, especially services leaving Zurich. The government explained that much of the airspace around Zurich will be closed during the operation, causing heavy bottlenecks across Switzerland and the continent as a whole.
4. Switzerland to vote on national referendums on June 18
On June 18, Swiss citizens will vote on three national referendums relating to business taxes, COVID-19 and a counter-proposal to the Glacier Initiative. It is the first time that people in the alpine nation have gone to the polls to vote on national issues since the last round in September 2022.
While political commentators previously indicated that there are majorities for all three initiatives, recent polling has suggested a neck-and-neck race - especially for the vote relating to climate change. For more information about how each vote will impact expats, check out our guide.
5. Summer parliamentary session gets underway
Starting on May 30 and ending on June 20, lawmakers in the Swiss parliament will meet to discuss the main issues facing the country today. The session will include a video call from Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskyy, who is expected to call on Switzerland to abandon the country’s policy of neutrality and put its full weight behind the Ukrainians in their war with Russia.
Indeed, arms re-exports to Ukraine will be top of the agenda for both houses in the next three weeks. Following this, the UBS-Credit Suisse merger and bailout are expected to attract further scrutiny, alongside debates around caps to the cost of health insurance, more paid leave for women who suffer miscarriages, changes to how sexual crimes are defined, increasing funding for renewable energy and a new plan to spend 11,6 billion francs on Swiss roads and motorways.
6. Pride month and Zurich Pride Festival
The coming of June also hails the start of Pride Month in Switzerland - 30 days dedicated to the visibility of the LGBTQ+ community across the country. While there will be events and protests taking place across the alpine nation, the one not to be missed is the Zurich Pride Festival.
On June 16 and 17 (4pm to midnight on June 16 and 2pm to midnight on June 17), people across Canton Zurich will gather at the Kasernenareal to celebrate pride month with copious amounts of rainbow-coloured regalia. All are welcome at the festival, where top music acts are expected to perform.
7. Women's strike to take place in Switzerland on June 14
Continuing the month of activism across the country, June 14 will see the latest iteration of the women’s strike in Switzerland. This year, the main focus of the protest will be on the gender pay gap, discrimination and workplace harassment.
While data, scope and variables vary wildly between studies, women in Switzerland earn around 18 percent less than men for doing “comparable” jobs, according to the Swiss Trade Union Federation. In a statement given to Swissinfo, the federation said that “virtually no progress” has been made on women’s rights since the first national strike in 2019. The largest events are expected to be held in Bern, Geneva, Zurich and Lausanne.
8. BSC Young Boys and Lugano vie for Swiss Cup
For the football fans among us, June 6 will see the final game of the 2022 / 2023 professional season in Switzerland. Between now and then, several accolades will be decided on the pitch.
First, BSC Young Boys from Bern will face off with Lugano in the final of the Swiss Cup on June 4. Young Boys have already clinched the league title so will be looking for a famous double, while Lugano will be searching for silverware that could see them qualify for European competitions more easily.
Finally, on June 6, minnows Stade Lausanne Ouchy will face Sion in their second-leg playoff to find out who will be promoted / remain in the Swiss Super League for next season. The highest league will expand from 10 teams to 12 next season, meaning one of these teams will join automatically promoted Yverdon and Lausanne in the top flight.
9. Swiss festival season begins
June will also see the beginning of the festival season in Switzerland. For the next three months, the alpine nation will be partying hard thanks to a series of international artists who are expected to grace the boards of some of the country’s top events.
The festival calendar will kick off with the Montreux Jazz Festival on June 30, with Sam Smith, Bob Dylan, Lionel Richie and Lil Nas X slated to perform at arguably the most famous music event in Switzerland.
10. Public holidays and the first day of summer in Switzerland
After the monster helping of holidays in May, workers in Switzerland may appreciate a few days on rather than off. However, for residents of Aargau, Lucerne, Uri, Schwyz, Obwalden, Nidwalden, Zug, Fribourg, Solothurn, Appenzell Innerrhoden, Graubünden, Ticino, Valais and Jura, Corpus Christi (June 8) is a holiday. The residents of the youngest canton in Switzerland, Jura, will also get a day off for its independence day on June 23.
Finally, after the first mereological day of summer was declared in May, people in the alpine nation will be treated to the real thing, with June 21 marking the first official day of summer. While it is unclear whether the weather in Switzerland will be scorchingly hot or depressingly damp, we hope you have fun!
Thumb image credit: Shutterstock.com / Francesco Bonino