Politicians in Lucerne demand voting documents be translated into English

Politicians in Lucerne demand voting documents be translated into English

The Social Democratic Party (SP) in the city of Lucerne has called on the government to provide crucial voting documents to residents in English. They argued that many new Swiss citizens are not native German speakers, and that they would benefit from using English when voting in elections and referendums.

Even for mother-tongue speakers, voting in Switzerland is complicated

According to 20 minuten, the SP in Lucerne argued that key voting documents, such as ballot cards, can be very complicated to read, even for a person whose mother tongue is German. They argued that for newly naturalised citizens, the language in voting cards makes it nearly impossible to vote correctly or in an informed way.

"There are major hurdles in understanding the sometimes complex templates, which makes voting and the associated political participation extremely difficult or even completely impossible," the SP said in a statement. In the canton of Lucerne, language certification for citizenship is only required at the A2 or "basic way stage" level, which the SP noted is “not proficient enough” to fully participate in the democratic process.

SP in Lucerne hopes to give voting cards in English

To solve the problem, the SP proposed that all local and cantonal voting documents be sent by post in German, English and up to two other languages. “Our aim is for as many people as possible to be able to participate. That makes our democracy strong," noted SP representative Yannick Gauch.

"It's not about us translating the voting documents into four different languages…but it should be possible for people who want it to be able to participate in politics,” Gauch explained. "Naturalised people pay taxes and have the same obligations as everyone else - they should also be able to deal intensively with Swiss politics."

However, it is yet unclear whether the idea has the support of any of the other major parties in the city, which may hinder its progress in becoming a law. The initiative is due to be debated in the cantonal parliament in the coming months.

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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