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Greetings from Bern,

Are Covid certificates a good idea? Should working conditions for nurses be improved? These are two issues on which Swiss voters will have their say next month. The answer to both will be “yes”, if a poll published today can be believed.

This content was published on October 22, 2021 - 18:00
Keystone / Georgios Kefalas

In the News:  Roger Federer is on the move around Basel. The local public transport operator has dedicated a tram to the city’s most famous son, who was on hand to inaugurate it this morning.

  • The blue tram is covered with pictures of Federer’s grand slam victories and of his most recent victory at the Swiss Indoors Basel in 2019. Inside, passengers can learn facts about the tennis star. Federer’s wife and parents also took part in the inauguration and maiden journey.
  • Giant Swiss chocolate manufacturer Barry Callebaut has just opened its new distribution centre, the largest chocolate warehouse in the world. The “Chocolate Box” in Lokeren, Belgium, is the size of 12 football pitches and can store up to 125,000 palletsExternal link – some 75 million kilos of chocolate – at a constant temperature of 18° Celsius.
  • Off to Thailand for a winter break? From November 1, vaccinated travellers flying into Thailand from Switzerland (and 45 other countries considered to have a low Covid risk) will no longer have to go into quarantine.
Keystone/Salvatore Di Nolfi

Five weeks ahead of the last round of nationwide votes this year, a poll published this morning gives some idea of the outcome of the three federal issues: the Covid certificate, improving working conditions for nurses, and choosing federal judges by lot.

The “nursing initiative” looks very likely to cause an upset, according to pollsters. The Covid-19 pandemic and the threat of overcapacity in hospitals and the stress for nursing staff have added momentum to the initiative, one explained. No proposal launched by an employer’s association has ever been successful at the ballot box. Only around one in ten initiatives is accepted.

A controversial law setting the legal conditions for the use of a Covid certificate also has a big lead. Nevertheless, pollsters expect heated debates in the coming weeks. There’s vocal opposition from grassroots members of the right-wing Swiss People’s Party, anti-establishment government opponents and vaccine critics. “These groups have the attention of the media, but it remains to be seen whether it’s enough to win a majority,” said one analyst.

With the spotlight on these two issues, the proposal for a random selection of federal judges has attracted little attention. Supporters and opponents currently have similar shares of intended votes and many potential voters said they had no clear opinion.


Another upcoming event that we’ll be covering is the United Nations Climate Conference (COP26), taking place in Glasgow from October 31 to November 12.

Today we published a handy explainer to the conference: What is it? Who’s taking part? Why is this year’s event so important? What are Switzerland’s climate priorities? And what are the chances of success?

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