Referendum in Switzerland: rejection of the initiative for "responsible multinationals"
A majority of Swiss cantons rejected the initiative for more responsible multinationals, this Sunday, November 29.
AFP - FABRICE COFFRINI
Text by: RFI Follow
Switzerland rejected this Sunday an initiative that wanted to impose stricter legal obligations on Swiss companies in terms of respect for human rights and environmental standards.
According to the polling institute gfs.bern, the so-called “responsible multinationals” initiative was rejected by at least 14 of the 26 Swiss cantons although it would have been approved by a narrow majority of votes, 50.7%.
However, to be adopted, a text must be approved by both a majority of voters and of the cantons.
This text provided for obliging Swiss companies to ensure
respect for human rights
and the environment in their activities abroad, in those of their suppliers or their business partners.
It would also have made it possible to force companies to answer possible failures before the courts in Switzerland.
I am extremely disappointed
but it is an initiative which has received incredible support
and we see that the whole country has had a very broad debate, a debate which is healthy and which raises the question of the values that we want to ensure in a globalized economy
”, declared on the public channel RTS Lisa Mazzone, representative of the Swiss Greens, party which called to vote yes for the initiative supported by 130 NGOs.
A divide between German-speaking and French-speaking cantons
The Federal Council (government) as well as business defense organizations called on voters to reject the text, believing that it risked harming Swiss economic interests.
This result is a great relief, because the initiative created uncertainty for the entire Swiss economic fabric, including SMEs
”, congratulated the Swiss agency Keystone-ATS Cristina Gaggini, director of Economiesuisse, an association for the defense of companies, for French-speaking Switzerland.
The vote reveals a divide which corresponds to the linguistic border of Switzerland, the German-speaking German-speaking cantons having in majority rejected the initiative while the French-speaking French-speaking cantons generally approved it.
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