On 27 September 2016, the canton of Vaud decided to ban begging after the Swiss People’s Party (UDC/SVP) launched an initiative to make it illegal. Vaud’s state government voted for the move with 60 votes for, 56 against, and 5 abstentions.
In response to the ban the Socialist Party and others started collecting signatures to launch a popular vote to overturn the ban. If they collect 12,000 signatures, the question will be put to voters in 2017.
A survey done by the newspaper 24 Heures shows, that even before the canton’s government banned begging at a cantonal level, nearly half of the canton’s 316 communes had begging bans in place. The 138 (44%) communes with bans contain 47% of the canton’s population. If the city of Lausanne, the most populous and a commune without a ban is excluded, the percentage climbs to 56%
With the exception of the city of Lausanne, the more populous the commune, the more likely begging is to be banned. Eight out of the ten communes with 10,000 or more residents have bans, as do 12 out of the 21 communes with populations between 4,999 and 10,000. Only 11% of smaller communes, most of which have probably never seen beggars, have bans. This map shows which communes have begging bans in place.
Claude-Alain Voiblet, president of the committee that launched a vote to ban begging in 2013, is surprised by the number of communes with bans. Speaking to 24 Heures he said: “The begging problem is usually associated with public spaces in cities. I would have expected only around 50 communes to have banned it.”
The mayor of one commune, Vully-les-Lacs, explained why they brought in a ban: “Two years ago, when we were updating our rules, we saw the begging problem in Lausanne and how the commune was unable to manage it. People said to each other we don’t want that here.”
The canton has drawn up standard wording to help communes update their rules. The rules template, known as “règlement type”, contains wording that bans begging, and allows those caught to be sent to social services or issued with a fine.