Canton Vaud to vote on giving expats and internationals voting rights

Canton Vaud to vote on giving expats and internationals voting rights

Swiss citizens across Canton Vaud are set to go to the polls to decide on whether to give expats and internationals political and voting rights at the cantonal level. AG!SSONS, the movement behind the new initiative, recently confirmed that they now have enough signatures to make the plan a referendum.

Swiss canton to vote on voting rights

In a statement given to Le Matin, AG!SSONS confirmed that they now have the 12.000 signatures required to force a vote on the “To extend political rights to foreign residents” initiative. The idea was brought forward in Canton Vaud and is likely to be voted on within the next few years.

The movement’s spokesperson, Simon Berthoud, said that the achievement was impressive given that “neither the political parties nor the unions wanted to commit to collecting signatures. The success of this campaign shows the strength of ordinary citizens who come together to make a difference.”

Long-term expats given Swiss voting rights if vote accepted

Specifically, the referendum calls for expats and internationals to be given the right to vote and stand for elections in the canton of Vaud. These rights would be granted to holders of Swiss residence permits who have lived in the country for 10 years consecutively - three years of which have to have been in Vaud.

In the statement, AG!SSONS made the point that around a third of Vaud’s population does not have Swiss citizenship and therefore cannot vote. “These people are nevertheless active in the social life of the canton; they have a job, pay taxes and live in the same territory, sometimes for decades. How are they different from Swiss nationals by birth or by naturalisation?” they asserted.

Third attempt to grant internationals voting rights in Vaud

“Elections and votes are not representative of the population of the canton of Vaud…The introduction of political rights for non-Swiss men and women will make it possible to remedy this problem of representativeness and inclusiveness," they concluded. Writing on X, the website formally known as Twitter, National Councillor Raphaël Mahaim voiced his support, hailing the vote as an opportunity to “revitalise democracy”.

While those in the media have praised AG!SSONS for its speed in securing enough signatures for a vote - collections only started in April - we have been here before. A similar plan has been voted on in Vaud twice in the past, being defeated by 74 percent of voters in 1992 and 69 percent in 2011.

Thumb image credit: Almazoff /

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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