Foreigners participate little in local elections

Many foreign nationals who have the right to vote in Switzerland - don’t, particularly in Geneva and Neuchâtel.

In the 2020 elections, for example, turnout was 40% for Swiss voters, but just 23% for foreigners.

Participation was particularly low in the Spanish and Portuguese communities. 

A study by the University of Neuchâtel aimed to discover why these communities aren’t participating. The study revealed that many foreigners don’t feel included in the political  process in Switzerland. Others find the Swiss political system too complicated, or are simply not accustomed to voting. 

To increase the participation of foreigners in elections, the study recommends fostering public recognition of their communities and programs that favor the participation of foreigners in public life in general. 

In Geneva, foreigners residing in the canton for eight years and holding a residence or establishment permit can vote at the municipal level. 


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