Foreigner voting rights

Keystone / Anthony Anex

At the national level, only Swiss citizens aged 18 and above are allowed to vote and to stand for election. In some cantons and municipalities however – especially in French-speaking Switzerland – foreigners have certain political rights.

This content was published on April 24, 2022

Elections and popular votes

Two cantons in French-speaking Switzerland – Neuchâtel and Jura – allow foreigners to vote in cantonal elections and ballots, under certain conditions. In Neuchâtel, they must have a permanent residence permit and have been living in the canton for at least five years; in Jura they must have been living in Switzerland for at least ten years and in the canton for at least a year.

At the local level, French-speaking Switzerland is again more open: foreigners are entitled to vote in municipal elections and ballots in Neuchâtel, Jura, Vaud, Fribourg and Geneva. The conditions vary from canton to canton, but in most cases a certain length of residence or a permanent residence permit are required.

In the larger German-speaking part of the country, only the cantons of Basel City, Graubünden and Appenzell Outer Rhodes authorise their municipalities to allow foreign residents to take part in local votes and elections. Only some of the municipalities in question have however introduced this possibility.

Standing for election

No canton allows foreigners to stand for election, with the exception of Fribourg when it comes to the election of judges.

In Neuchâtel, Jura, Vaud and Fribourg, however, foreign residents entitled to vote at the municipal level also have the right to be elected in their municipality. This is also the case in the municipalities in Basel City, Graubünden and Appenzell Outer Rhodes that have decided to introduce voting rights for foreigners at the local level.

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In compliance with the JTI standards

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