Referendums in Switzerland: yes to Frontex, cinema law and organ donation reform

Status: 05/15/2022 5:00 p.m.

The Swiss voted on three issues – and the majority were in favour: they approved participation in the European border protection agency Frontex, new rules for organ donations and a cinema law.

By Kathrin Hondl, ARD Studio Geneva

The clearest was the yes to the funding of the European border protection agency Frontex. “If the EU was only made up of Frontex, Switzerland would join it today,” a sarcastic comment from a Swiss journalist said on Twitter.

Catherine Hondl

According to projections, 72% of the Swiss are in favor of their country’s participation in the enlargement of Frontex decided by the EU. Switzerland’s annual contribution will now increase from 24 to 61 million francs. Although Switzerland is not in the EU, it is a member of the Schengen area and is therefore contractually obliged to contribute to the financing of Frontex.

Refugee organizations are subject

Refugee aid organizations and left-wing parties had campaigned for the no. They referred to the many reports of human rights violations and illegal pushbacks by Frontex. Sophie Guignard of the humanitarian organization “Solidarité sans Frontières”: “The result of the vote is disappointing and shameful for Switzerland as a country of the Geneva Convention on refugees.”

A “no” to the financing of Frontex would have threatened Switzerland with being excluded from the Schengen area. This is why Frontex’s detractors had campaigned for a yes vote in the referendum.

Refugee organizations and left-wing parties had campaigned against expanding Frontex’s engagement.

Image: Kathrin Hondl/SWR

Future objection solution for organ donations

There was also clear approval of a new regulation for organ donations: almost 60% voted for the so-called objection solution. In future, everyone in Switzerland will be considered a potential organ donor if they do not expressly refuse to do so during their lifetime. Until now – as in Germany – it was the other way around: organ donation only with lifetime consent – for example with an organ donor card.

With the new rules, the Swiss government wants to ensure that more organs are available for seriously ill people. This is also the expectation of Franz Immer, director of Swisstransplant, the Swiss foundation for organ donation and transplantation.

He said on Swiss radio SRF 1 about the result of the vote: “It’s a yes to life. I’m really happy that people seem to have followed this proposal from the federal government and parliament and that the people on the waiting list to have this chance for organ allocation will increase.”

Opponents of the new regulations fear there will be too much pressure on people who do not want to donate organs – a fear that cardiac surgeon Franz Immer says is unfounded: “In intensive care unit discussions, this will be the same as before today. It’s always about providing the best possible to know the wishes of the deceased. There will be no pressure here.

Film suppliers must invest in Switzerland

Even during the vote of a new law on cinema, the opponents failed to convince the majority of the population. According to the intermediate result of the vote, 58% said yes to the so-called “Lex Netflix”.

This means that in future – as in most EU countries – portals such as Netflix will also have to pay in Switzerland. International streaming providers and foreign TV channels with Swiss advertising windows will in future have to invest 4% of their Swiss sales in Switzerland. This should bring about 18 million francs a year to the Swiss film industry.

It’s “Switzerland”

“I am very relieved,” said Matthias Aebischer, member of the Social Democrats in the Swiss National Council and president of the professional association Cinésuisse, after the vote on the cinema law:

“It’s a logical model. It’s an investment in a film that Netflix would otherwise make in America and now has to make in Switzerland. It’s about culture, it’s about ‘Swissness’ – it’s is great.”

The new Swiss film law also obliges Netflix and Co. to include at least 30% European productions in their programming. Swiss opponents of the law had described this European quota as “paternalism”.

Frontex, film, organ donation – three times yes to the Swiss referendums

Kathrin Hondl, ARD Geneva, 15 May 2022 4:00 p.m.

Leave a Comment