Daily Archives: February 14, 2011
Switzerland held one of its traditional referendums on Sunday, February 13. This time, Switzerland voted on a popular initiative which would basically ban the storage of military-grade weapons in private households. The ban was supported by the Socialists, the Greens, the PST (communists) and smaller Christian-left type parties. Radicals, Christian democrats and the nationalist SVP opposed it. Homicides resulting in death are pretty rare in Switzerland, and only 20% or so of them are done through use of a handgun.
Gun referendums in the world are pretty rare, and they’re always of some interest given that it’s a politically controversial subject matter in a lot of places. The last major one was a 2005 referendum in Brazil aiming to control firearms, which failed badly.
Turnout was 48.86%, which is pretty good for Switzerland.
The initiative was soundly rejected despite some polls showing that it had a decent chance of passing. The low homicide rate in Switzerland likely played a role, as did arguments by opponents that storing guns in private households was a deterrent to criminals.
The map is largely the traditional one, and reveals yet another urban-rural split and liberal-conservative division common to such wedge issues. Urban communities voted 48% in favour, while barely 32% of rural inhabitants voted in favour. The more socially liberal and ‘bobo’ type voters of urban French Switzerland voted in favour (56% yes), very heavily so in the case of Geneva. While French rural areas voted against (58% no), working-class areas of the Jura and Neuchâtel such as La-Chaux-de-Fonds and Delémont seemingly voted in favour (which doesn’t seem to be the case in German Switzerland). Opposition was strongest in the historical heart of Switzerland in the mountains of German Switzerland, a traditionally deeply conservative and very rural region. The very conservative and isolated mountainous half-canton of Appenzell-Inner Rhodes had the most opposed, with 72% voting against. Outside of Zurich, Luzern, Basel and Arlesheim no district of German (or Italian) Switzerland voted in favour.