On the 18 June 2023, Swiss voters will be asked to accept or reject the government’s extension of the COVID-19 Act on 16 December 2022.
As a precaution, Switzerland’s parliament extended the period of application of the legal provisions on certain measures in the COVID-19 Act from mid-December 2023 until mid-2024.
The law enables the authorities to act quickly in an emergency to protect particularly vulnerable people and the healthcare system. The virus remains unpredictable and the possibility that dangerous variants of the virus will emerge again cannot be ruled out, argues the government.
However, despite presenting arguments in favour of the extension, politicians and citizens gathered the required signatures (50,000 in this case) to put the government’s decision to the public in the form of a referendum.
There is widespread support for the plan across government. The Federal Council and majorities in parliament (140 yes, 50 no and 6 abstentions) and the upper house (39 yes, 1 no and 4 abstentions) support the plan.
In addition, all major Swiss parties, except the Swiss People’s Party (UDC/SVP), support the extension.
The argument in favour of the plan is that it gives the government the tools it needs if the current situation changes. The committee organising opposition to it argue that the law is harmful, discriminatory and divisive.
Past votes on Covid laws were accepted by a majority of voters. On 13 June 2021, 60.21% of voters accepted the government’s Covid laws. Then again on 28 November 2021, 62.1% of the population voted in favour of Switzerland’s Covid laws. This vote is predicted to achieve a similar majority.