Daily Archives: March 8, 2010
Iceland held its first referendum since independence in 1944 on Saturday, March 6. The referendum concerned a controversial topic in a country which nearly went bankrupt in 2008-2009, the repayment of foreign loans which were offered by the UK and the Netherlands to save the country’s main banks from sinking. The vote on the repayment of the €3.8 billion foreign loan was sparked by the President’s refusal to sign the so-called ‘Icesave’ bill. In Iceland, if the President does not sign the bill within 14 days, a referendum must be held. The President had been pressured by protests and petitions to not sign the bill.
Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir said she was disappointed by the President’s decision and recently announced that she would not vote, arguing that the vote was useless because the government had negotiated a better deal with foreign lenders. Furthermore, foreign countries and the government itself argue that Iceland will need to pay back its foreign loans, whatever the vote’s result.
As widely expected, the repayment was massively rejected, with good turnout at 62.70%.
Invalid or blank votes 5.02%
Swiss voters dealt with three questions today (March 7). Not as big a vote as the very mediatized minaret ban last year, but there were some interesting questions on the ballot.
A popular vote on a pension reform scheme passed by Parliament was put for a vote, this pension reform includes cuts to state pensions over a long-term period. The NO vote, which had all the momentum on its side, opposed the pension cuts and was led by the left and notably the Social Democrats. The YES vote, supported by business and some agrarian interests had little hope in the current economic climate and against a strong opposition of getting this passed.
Support for the NO was obviously widespread, with the highest support for the pension reforms scheme in wealthy areas (where the yes broke the low 40s) and some isolated (and usually German-speaking) rural areas. Opposition was very strong notably in the canton of the Jura, a Socialist area.
The second vote was an initiative which would create a mandatory lawyer for animals in all cantons (currently, only Zurich has such a position) to prevent animal cruelty. This unique measure sparked some interest but sparked little support.
Support broke 40% in the major urban centres of Switzerland. The last and least controversial proposal was an amendment to regularize human research.