Strong turnout influenced rejection of key environmental law

Strong support from young people was not enough to get the government environmental law past the ballot box on June 13. Keystone / Laura Zimmermann

Strong mobilisation against agricultural initiatives contributed to Swiss voters’ narrow rejection last month of a CO2 law central to government environmental policy, according to an analysis.

This content was published on July 30, 2021 - 12:58

Those who voted against the law also thought its cost-benefit ratio was not good, said the gfs.bern institute on Friday, based on a survey of 3,054 eligible voters. They pointed to expected higher costs and pressure on smaller companies if the CO2 law passed. However, 46% of opponents in the survey actually wanted stronger action against climate change.

On June 13, 51.6% of Swiss voters rejected the CO2 law. The law was based on the “polluter pays” principle to curb greenhouse gases and meet Switzerland’s commitments under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Also on June 13, more than 60% of voters rejected both an initiative “for a Switzerland without artificial pesticides” and “for clean drinking water and healthy food”.

Analysts at gfs.bern said mobilisation against the agricultural initiatives influenced the “No” to the CO2 Act, which initially seemed to have strong popular support. The triple “no” to all three environmental initiatives was backed especially by people from rural areas and people supporting centre and right-wing parties. Strong support from young people was not enough to get it through.

Between 59.5% and 59.7% of those eligible to vote did so on June 13. This represents a very high turnout, says gfs.bern, with only four other “voting Sundays” drawing higher participation. Two other issues were also put to the vote that day and were accepted: the government’s “Covid-19 law” and an anti-terrorism law.

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