I saw this ad in English on the back of a bus and laughed out loud in surprise thinking what is this new Swiss initiative? Only later did I see the fine print “…in my commune.” That’s when I realized it’s local election time again and age was not the issue; it’s the number of years a resident has lived in Switzerland. The canton is highlighting that since 2005, residents of Geneva who have lived in Switzerland at least 8 years and are 18 years or older may vote in the communal elections for the Conseil Municipale and the Conseil Administratif.
But why is Geneva investing so much money promoting this occasion? According to the Le Temps the “J’ai 8 ans” campaign is meant to promote local elections to the 86,000 eligible non-Swiss voters in Geneva. During the last communal elections in 2011 less than 30% of foreign residents participated versus 40% of Swiss voters.
Several weeks ago I received a very nice brochure from the 8 ans people printed in several languages. I decided to check out the English internet site to see if it is worth passing on to our blog readers who may not speak French. Again I had to chuckle out loud. The only information in English is the slogan. The video is in French, the explanation of the voting procedure is in French and the reasons why you should vote are in French. OK, we live in Switzerland so we should know French. How about the German tab? Nope, it’s in French. The Italian tab? French.
So let me explain a few things you should know about the upcoming elections. The people for whom you are voting are your representatives (including the mayor) who decide the plans and budgets regarding your commune’s security, roads, parks, culture, sports, schools, nurseries, welfare and subsidies (such as TPG and electric bike reimbursements).
The first round of voting is April 19. If you are eligible you will receive your ballot in in your postbox. You can return it by mail 3 days before the indicated date, vote electronically, or return it in person at the stated location between 10:00 and 12:00 on Sunday, April 19. You must bring an identity card.
Personally I don’t think it is necessary but if you would like an extensive explanation on how to vote, you may refer this link.
We are a group of international women living in Geneva, Switzerland. If you would like to join the AIWC, please visit our website at http://www.aiwcgeneva.org/