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Heinz Schmid: Why the Swiss people rejected the new climate law

Heinz Schmid, Switzerland

Good news: The Swiss people have rejected the CO2 law in the referendum on Sunday, with 51.6% of voters saying no to the proposed carbon taxes.

Thus the CO2 law will not come into effect. Only two cantons accepted the law, Vaud and Zurich. Like many other types of left/green laws there was a clear distinction between rural and urban Swiss.

Conservative rural cantons rejected the carbon law very clearly. In the rural village in the canton of Thurgovia were we live 69% of voters said no. Our system of direct democracy has once again proven its democratic value. Both the Swiss government and parliament (the Senat and the House of Representatives) supported the CO2 law. The CO2 legislation would have been very severe for Swiss households and businesses, putting a tax of more than 200 Swiss Francs per ton of CO2 on energy. Gas and oil heatings would effectively have been prohibited and petrol at the pump costing 12 raps more per litre bringing the total tax levy up to more than 1 CHF per liter. 

In the case of the CO2 law the result is also a triumph over the mainstream propaganda. In Switzerland, the only political party agains the CO2 law was SVP (Swiss Peoples Party). All other parties were for the law. It went so far that even the Swiss Automobile Association (your RAC) was for the CO2 law too. But even more important was the fact that all mainstream media were in favour of the law too, including Swiss TV and Radio.

There are just a few newspapers now in Switzerland promoting a policy of reason and conservative values. One is Weltwoche with its owner Roger Köppel, another one is the (newly) Nebelspalter. Both are weekly newspapers like the Economist. By consequence the result is a triumph of reason over propaganda. Which – and now I come back to what you said – shows that people vote much more intelligently than  politicians and mainstream media believe, if presented with the key facts and arguments. 

Todays’ referendum was very important for Switzerland because it demonstrated to both government and parliament that we Swiss are more down to earth and show more common sense that our political elite.