On 8 June 2022, Switzerland’s parliament voted against a Green Party plan to allow foreigners with at least 5 years of residency to vote and be elected in federal elections, reported ATS.
A total of 113 members versus 63 voted against the plan. Foreigners living in Switzerland who wish to participate in democratic life are able to naturalise, argued Marianne Binder-Keller, a member of the commission given the task of looking at the proposal.
A similar majority rejected a plan by the Socialist Party to grant full voting rights at a local level.
Proponents of the proposals argued that allowing foreigners to vote would make Switzerland more democratic and inclusive. Around 20% of the resident population is foreign and cannot participate in the country’s direct democratic system.
If a foreigner lives legally in the country for 5 years, they must be able to vote or be elected at a municipal level, said Mustafa Atici, a member of the Socialist Party. The Green Party wanted voting to be allowed at all levels of the system including the federal level.
Some cantons already allow some foreigners to vote at cantonal and municipal levels. Neuchâtel (after 1 year), Jura (after 10 years), Fribourg (after 5 years), Vaud (after 10 years) and Geneva (after 8 years) all allow voting at the municipal level after a certain number of years of residence. And two allow voting at a cantonal level. Neuchâtel allows cantonal voting after 5 years in the canton and Jura after 10 years in Switzerland and 1 year in the canton – more information here.
Qualifying for Swiss citizenship requires 10 years of residency on the right visas, evidence of integration, sufficient knowledge of the local language, limits on recourse to the welfare system and a crime-free record.