50.7 percent yes to the group initiative and still no – how can that be? The reason for this at first glance strange voting result is the number of stands. In order for a popular initiative to be accepted, not only the majority of the voters in Switzerland as a whole have to say yes, but also the population in the majority of the cantons.
And she didn’t do that on Sunday. In 14.5 cantons – the half-cantons only have half a professional vote – the population said no to the initiative.
Protection of the Catholic rural population
This number of stands has a long tradition. It was enshrined in the first federal constitution in 1848. The purpose at that time was the protection of minorities for the Catholic rural population. The aim was to prevent this from being overruled by the then very strong free mind.
Today the estates are seen as the protection of federalism. Otherwise the densely populated cantons with large cities like Zurich, Geneva, Basel and Bern could outvote all others – and that would expose Switzerland to an enormous risk of division.
It is very rare for a decision to have more classes
This was seen, for example, in the hunting law. There the urban cantons have outvoted the mountain cantons. And there was no need for an additional class because it was a referendum.
The fact that a popular initiative gets a yes from the people, but not from the cantons, has only happened once: in 1955 during the vote on “tenant and consumer protection”. And now, on this historic Sunday, a second time.