With direct democracy in Switzerland, a wide range of issues are regularly voted on in the referendums in the Alpine country.

Next Sunday, there will be themes, some of which are also of interest outside Switzerland: restricting immigration from the EU and renewing the Air Force's fighter fleet.

For both, no changes to the current situation should be allowed.

According to opinion polls, the majority of Swiss want to maintain the free movement agreed with the EU and replace the obsolete Air Force fighters with new ones.

However, the background is haunted by previous referendums on the same topics, which caused a lot of gray hair for decision-makers.

Behind the immigration initiative is the populist and nationalist Swiss People's Party SVP, which has long wanted to loosen close relations between Switzerland and the EU.

The right-wing populist and nationalist SVP is the country's largest party, but has been left alone in curbing EU immigration: in addition to all other parties, the government, business and trade unions are opposed to jeopardizing relations with the country's main trading partner.

There has been friction in the EU in the past

This is not just about immigration: if the change restricting free movement were to go through, the so-called guillotine clause would also freeze a whole range of other EU-Switzerland bilateral agreements, including on trade.

This is a theory so far, as opinion polls show that 65% of citizens oppose the SVP initiative.

However, we remember the referendum from 2014, when a very small majority of those who voted supported the SVP's proposal to set immigration quotas for EU countries.

The idea was strongly rejected by the EU and relations between the parties plunged into a crisis until Switzerland virtually renounced quotas and replaced them with a requirement for employers to favor - at least ostensibly - a Swiss jobseeker before hiring an EU citizen.

According to the SVP, the government’s compromise with the EU was “fraud” and the party would set in motion a new project.

According to the researcher, many voters of the previous project have since changed their position after noticing that the EU is not ready to be flexible about its key principles.

- Circumstances have changed greatly since 2014, says political scientist Pascal Sciarni from the University of Geneva to the news agency AFP.

In the fighter project, much the same as in Finland

There is a lot familiar to Finns about the Swiss fighter project: the old Hornet fighters are similar to the Air Force's operational aircraft to be replaced, and the decision on the new fighter model is to be made at the same time as in Finland, ie next year.

The fighters on offer are the same as in the HX project, only Saab's Gripen E dropped out of the Swiss competition because the Swedes did not have time to deliver a series-produced test flight model for tests in early summer 2019.

Also in fighter procurement, the look back is to 2014. At that time, the referendum rejected the government’s and parliament’s decision to buy 22 Gripen Es, which were still in development at the time.

The planes would have replaced the F-5 Tiger fighters, even older than the Swiss Hornets, which have now been decommissioned.

Sunday's vote challenges Parliament's decision to allocate FRF 6 billion (approximately EUR 5.6 billion) to the purchase of 30 to 40 aircraft - this type of aircraft is not yet being talked about.

The vote is based on the Switzerland without the Army (GSoA) civic movement, which, as its name implies, has goals that go beyond the fighter project.

It has received support from parties such as the Social Democrats and the Greens.

Opponents of the fighter project say the country, surrounded by friendly states and has not fought since the early 19th century, does not need fighters.

Instead, the money should be used for health care and to combat new types of threats such as climate change.

However, in a survey published by the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation last weekend, 58 per cent of respondents thought the country should continue to have its own air force.

Right-wing populists also against paternity leave

More purely Swiss themes in the referendums are paternity leave and wolf hunting.

Switzerland, considered a conservative country, did not give women full voting rights until 1971, and 14 weeks 'maternity leave was approved in 2005. Fathers were not entitled to paid leave until Parliament approved a proposal for two weeks' paternity leave a year ago.

The right-wing populist SVP also opposed the project, and was able to gather enough names for the initiative to hold a referendum.

As in immigration, on paternity leave, all other parties are in favor of reform.

According to polls, about 60 percent of the population agrees.

Sunday's fourth vote concerns a proposal to facilitate wolf hunting.

There were no wolves in Switzerland in the 1980s, but since then the animals have returned, and the population has grown to about 80 individuals, causing losses to livestock farmers.

Under the new bill, the wolf would still be a protected species, but animals should also be shot with special permission to prevent damage, and not only after the damage has occurred.

On the issue of wolves, Swiss opinions are evenly divided on the basis of surveys.