Swiss government gets the green light for COVID measures after public vote

Swiss government gets the green light for COVID measures after public vote

The latest round of referendums in Switzerland took place on Sunday, and the results are in. After a long and bitter campaign that saw multiple protests and heated debates, supporters of the COVID-19 Act and Nursing Initiative celebrated a victory at the polls, with the Justice-Initiative falling short.

COVID-19 Act in Switzerland passes after protests against the law

Turnout for the November referendums was especially high, with around 21 percent more voters than the last round in September. The vote on the COVID-19 Act was held amid continued protests across Switzerland against the current set of COVID laws, such as mask mandates and COVID certificates.

The COVID-19 Act passed with 62 percent of the popular vote, carrying 24 Swiss cantons, only losing in Canton Schwyz and Appenzell Innerrhoden. The vote will mean the government can continue to implement and enforce new measures to curb the spread of infection and ease the pressure off the healthcare system, as well as continue using the restrictions currently in place. The vote was the first time an issue has been voted on twice in the same year, and heated debate on the vote is set to continue long after the ballots have been counted.

Nursing Initiative to support Swiss healthcare workers

Another success came for supporters of the Nursing Initiative, which gained majority of support on the night with around 61 percent of voters backing the plan, holding a majority in all but one Swiss canton. The vote to increase salaries, improve working hours, working conditions, contracts and to hire more nurses received widespread support, particularly in the context of the COVID pandemic.

The vote will now lead to increased funding for the care sector, but politicians have already said the current demands are unreasonable and have previously attempted to reach a compromise. If the full demands of the referendum are not fulfilled, it will not be long before the issue finds itself back on the ticket.

Justice-Initiative fails to gain enough votes

The final vote of the night was the only one to be rejected. The Justice-Initiative was designed to make the selection of federal government judges, such as those at the Federal Supreme Court, into a lottery. The idea was to make judicial appointments less political by using an independent body to choose candidates and then have their names drawn out of a hat.

Despite being rejected by all major Swiss political parties, the vote still managed to gather 31,9 percent of the vote, but did not pass a majority. 

Swiss referendums November 2021 election results

Here are the Swiss referendum results for November 2021 in full:

COVID-19 Act results: 

  • Total votes: 3.583.657
  • Votes in favour: 2.222.373 (62 percent)
  • Votes against: 1.361.284 (38 percent)
  • Cantons in favour: 24
  • Cantons against: 2

Nursing Initiative results:

  • Total votes: 3.544.057
  • Votes in favour: 2.161.080 (61 percent)
  • Votes against: 1.382.977 (39 percent)
  • Cantons in favour: 25
  • Cantons against: 1

Justice-Initiative results:

  • Total votes: 3.430.154
  • Votes in favour: 1.095.174 (31,9 percent)
  • Votes against: 2.334.980 (68,1 percent)
  • Cantons in favour: 0
  • Cantons against: 26

Find out more about the next referendums in Switzerland

The next set of Swiss national referendums are due to take place on February 13, 2022. For more information, check the official government website.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Editor for Switzerland at IamExpat Media. Jan studied History at the University of York and Broadcast Journalism at the University of Sheffield. Though born in York, Jan has lived most...

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