Poll suggests voters would have rejected EU framework deal

Citing “substantial differences” with Brussels, the Swiss government decided to no longer pursue a controversial institutional agreement on relations with the EU. Keystone / Alessandro Della Valle

A majority of 51% of Swiss would have voted against the framework agreement with the EU, which the government walked away from last month. Only 35% would have backed it, according to a survey.

This content was published on June 18, 2021 minutes

Doubts as to whether the framework agreement with the EU would find a majority among the public played a major role in the Swiss burying the seven-year negotiations.

EU framework agreement

Citing “substantial differences” on the deal, on May 26 the Swiss government decided to bin a controversial institutional agreement on relations with the European Union.

The decision to walk away meant the end of seven years of efforts between Switzerland and the EU to craft an overarching treaty to replace the more than 120 bilateral deals which have regulated relations for the past decades.

The government cited a lack of agreement on three key points which have hampered progress since a deal was drafted in 2018: salary protection, state aid rules, and the access of EU citizens to Swiss social security benefits.

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Support for the agreement was reflected in party allegiance, said a survey by the Tamedia media group published on Friday. Most supporters of the centrist Liberal Green Party (57%) and the left-wing Social Democratic Party (55%) and the Green Party (54%) backed a deal.

In contrast, supporters of the right-wing Swiss People’s Party overwhelmingly rejected the framework agreement. Only 8% were in favour, while 82% rejected it. But the agreement also failed to convince supporters of the centre-right Radical Liberal Party (53% against and 35% in favour) and the Centre Party (50% against and 37% in favour).

Right to end talks?

A similar picture emerges when it comes to the question of whether it was right to break off the negotiations.

While more than half of the supporters of the Liberal Greens, the Social Democrats and Greens voted for a continuation of the talks, it was the opposite with the Radical Liberals and the Centre. Only 5% of People’s Party supporters thought further negotiations made sense.

Earlier surveys had still signalled a clear approval of the framework agreement among the population. At the beginning of May the gfs.bern research institute found that 64% of the Swiss would vote “yes” or “leaning towards yes”. This survey was conducted before the government’s decision on May 26.

Tamedia surveyed 16,249 people from June 11-13. The margin of error is /- 4 percentage points.

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