connect, grow & thrive.

February 10 referendum explained

The first referendum of the year is only concerned with one topic: Putting an end to extensive conversions of agricultural land into building zones in Switzerland. Namely the Youth Green Party is asking that there be a total freeze on any further buildable zones in the country. Should there be a need to have more buildable land in one area  then a current buildable zone elsewhere would have to be converted back into a green zone again.
This would, in effect, put an end to a referendum which was passed in 2013, and which regulated building zones, mainly stating that a new building zone can only be put in place if showing a need for the upcoming 15 years after which time the building zone will need to be reevaluated.
As far as the government is concerned this is strict enough to protect the green zones around cities. Should this new initiative be passed the government is worried that all urban growth will be hindered.
Although this motion drew a lot of positive attention when it was first announced it has now lost ground.
With the population growing from 7.4 million to 8 million in the last 8 years it is surprising to note that actually the buildable land has shrunk from 309m2 to 291 m2 per inhabitant.
It is therefore a bit hard to understand on what basis this initiative would help keep Switzerland any greener, the government is asking people to vote against this motion.
On another note, due to a motion passed by the SVP (right wing party), the city‘s budget is now frozen and the people will have to approve it (or not) in May. In the meantime many projects are on standby in the city due to no funding. This has also had an impact on us as we rely on the city‘s contribution to help us run the LiLi Centre.

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