Day Two of Swiss Briefing Tour
By Johanna Herman
The second day of the tour proved just as busy as the first! A non stop tour of all things to do with the voting rights, government structure and revolutions in voting processes happing in Switzerland. First thing we left the city of Bülach and headed to the capital of the Canton (the equivalent of a US state) Zürich. The first thing we did was head over to the city government building and heard a presentation on the government structure of the city, general trends of voting and how the Zürich people vote. The presentation was given by Christina Wandeler who is a part of the foreign affairs office of the city. The group learned the differences between voting powers at the Canton and municipal level as well as the differences the city council and city parliament play in the governmental process of the city. Perhaps the most interesting bit learned was that TV and radio adds are not allowed during any election of any kind, a stark difference from the US where TV and radio adds play a huge part of the campaign process.
The next stop was the Zürich parliament where we got to listen to the Vice President of the parliament talk about the work the parliament does as well as how the initiative and referendum process works in the city. Although the President did not speak much English, she was attentive to all questions asked and provided support to questions asked of the Vice president. The Building is owned by the Canton of Zürich so the city Parliament has to rent it out for each session. To note some of the important questions asked, the agenda, budget, and voting issues are all transparent meaning that if any citizen of the city wanted to see what the city was spending money on they would only have to ask the government. Also, no term limits exist so there is no limit to the time a member of parliament can stay in their office.
After this busy morning and early afternoon we took a lovely boat ride from one end of the Zürich sea to the other to end up at the town of Rapperswil. It was nice to relax a bit after such a hectic day. Tomorrow proves to be just as busy, with an introduction to the government here in Rapperswil then a trip up the Alps to learn about the Alpine Initiative.