connect, grow & thrive.

The May 20th Referendum explained

Next Sunday the Swiss will be returning to the urns to vote on 3 issues, nothing quite as ground breaking as a Brexit or new president but still issues that will affect us.

On a national level we are being called to vote on the new energy law.

Energy law

This main energy strategy calls for a bigger support of renewable energies, giving financial support to hydroelectric dams which are facing a crisis due to the low price of electricity and calling for a ban on any further nuclear plants being built. Whenever a plant will reach the end of its life and is closed down, it will not be replaced, see article here.

The government and parliament are calling for people to vote in favour of this initiative, those against it (led by the SVP) argue that it will cost too much, will lead to more bureaucracy and rules and will ruin the landscape.

The government is arguing that this initiative will lead to more jobs being created and help the environment by lowering the CO2 levels. People who switch to more efficient energies (like homeowners installing thermal heat pumps) will be given financial support in the process.

Should people vote against this initiative there will be no money for improving the energy footprint of buildings as of 2020, the funding for research into renewable energy will be much less and it will not be possible to continue to support hydroelectrical dams. It would also mean that we would have to import more energy from the EU and be more reliant on foreign energy.

On a local level, there are two initiatives.

A tax hike of 0.10% on city taxes.

The city is having to save money, in 2013 & 2015 two saving programmes were put in place, whose effect has meant that a lot of services have been drastically cut back. The city is calling for a tax hike of 0.10% for people and businesses, arguing that if they don’t do so they will have to cut an extra 64 million francs from this year’s budget leading to even more cut backs in services.  The cantonal parliament voted in favour of this action with only the SVP holding back and calling for the present referendum. With the population of the city continuing to grow it is necessary to invest in infrastructures and this can only happen if there is more money in the coffers. So it’s a case of cough up or risk losing more services.

Halving the canton’s contribution towards the music school

In order to balance the canton’s financial accounts, the canton has decided to cut their contribution towards music schools from CHF 350.- per child to CHF 175.-, this will save the canton 1.8 million francs per year. The difference will be picked up by each town and village affected. An initiative was launched against this arguing that poorer towns or villages will not be able to pay this, this will make the music lessons more expensive and will have to be paid for by the parents.

The cantonal parliament is in majority supporting this new ruling arguing that this is only 1 of 150 cost saving rulings and by refusing this one, the whole programme will be jeopardised as all other saving plans could be questioned. The socialist and green party argue that by cutting sponsorship parents may have to pay more which will, in turn,  lead to fewer children going to music school and this will make the classes more expensive again.

The parliament is asking people to vote in favour of this motion.

The results will come in on May 20th in the evening, we will keep you updated.

Charlie Hartmann is the managing director of the Living in Luzern organisation which focuses on helping international residents connect, grow and thrive in Switzerland.



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