Double "yes" seems likely ahead of vote

A clear majority of Swiss voters favour a moratorium on GMOs in agriculture

Swiss voters seem likely to accept a moratorium on genetically modified products (GMOs) in agriculture and extending Sunday shopping according to a new poll.

This content was published on November 16, 2005 - 18:07

The second and final survey commissioned by the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation indicates that the two proposals will probably be passed on November 27.

The poll shows that the "no" campaign against Sunday trading has gained ground since October. Opposition to changing the country's labour laws to accommodate extra opening times for some shops has increased by seven points to 40 per cent.

At the same time, support for the proposal to allow extended trading in main train stations and airports has dropped five percentage points. In October 59 per cent of those polled said they intended to vote in favour of the proposal, versus 54 now.

Only six per cent of voters remain undecided on this issue according to the survey carried out by the gfs.bern institute.

The proposal to introduce a five-year moratorium on genetically modified products in agriculture has not lost any support.

The proportion of people against the initiative remains steady at 36 per cent. The "yes" camp has gained in the meantime one percentage point, giving it a healthy 48 per cent lead.


This snapshot of voter intentions is surprising, according to the pollsters. "Normally the more intensely the subject is discussed, the more voters' initial readiness to accept it declines," researchers at gfs.bern point out.

Generally speaking, opposition campaigns gain from this slippage. But this phenomenon has not been evident on this occasion.

One reason for this could be that almost all political parties are split on the GMO issue. The Social Democrats are the only party to show a clear majority in favour of the gene technology moratorium – 62 per cent.

A significant number of voters - 16 per cent - are still undecided on the GMO question. This is just one percentage point less than last month.

The polling institute reckons these votes will decide the outcome on November 27, adding that the campaign has entered a crucial phase.

The adoption of the GMO moratorium requires a change to the constitution; to succeed, a majority of cantons will have to vote yes as well as a majority of voters.

The pollsters could not say though how the yes-vote was distributed and whether there were enough cantons likely to adopt the proposal.

Safety margin

The figures for changing the labour laws and the associated extension of Sunday shopping in public transport sites are clearer. Despite the losses of the yes campaign, they are going into the final stages with a good safety margin.

The most pronounced change compared to the October poll took place in French-speaking Switzerland. Last month 68 per cent of those surveyed said they would vote yes to the change but this proportion has now been reduced to 47 per cent in favour versus 45 per cent against.

In Italian-speaking Ticino, the majority has been reversed. The figures now stand at 49 per cent against and 43 per cent for. Positions remain stable in German-speaking Switzerland (57 per cent yes, 38 per cent no).

swissinfo, Christian Raaflaub

Key facts

The people's initiative "for agriculture free of genetically-modified products": 48% Yes (+1%), 36% No (+/-0%), 16% undecided (-1%).
Liberalisation of shop opening hours in major train stations and airports: 54% Yes (-5%), 40% No (+7%), 6% undecided (-2%).
Estimated voter turnout has climbed to 53% (+8%).

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In brief

For the survey, 1,221 people all over Switzerland were interviewed between November 7 and 13.

The margin of error is 3%.

This is the second poll on the two proposals, which will go to the vote on November 27.

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