woman wearing blue burka and sunglasses
Supporters and opponents of a burka ban in Switzerland are running neck-and-neck, a new opinion poll has found. Keystone/Niels Wenstedt
Support for a proposed ban on facial coverings, including burkas, in Switzerland appears to be on the wane according to a new opinion poll.
This content was published on February 24, 2021 – 06:00February 24, 2021 – rs Geiser
A law on licensed electronic ID scheme looks set to fail, while a controversial free trade accord with Indonesia is likely to win approval in a set of nationwide votes on March 7.
The poll, carried out by the GfS Bern research institute in mid-February, was commissioned by the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC), swissinfo.ch’s parent company.
Opponents of the right-wing initiative, which aims to ban full facial coverings in public, now trail backers by just 2%, compared with the 16% announced by the SBC poll a month ago.
The gains are the result of waning support among women, the younger generation, citizens in urban regions and higher income earners, said Martina Mousson, political scientist at GfS Bern.
The initiative has also lost ground in the French-speaking region of the country and to a lesser extent in the main German-speaking region.
A 58% majority of Swiss expat respondents is still in favour of the initiative, down from 74% a month earlier. Pollsters have no clear idea why voters living outside Switzerland seem more inclined to approve the proposed ban.
Overall, “there is a clear trend towards rejection, despite the relative majority in favour of the initiative at the moment,” said Mousson. “There are no signs that this trend will be easily reversed.”
However, she didn’t rule out an approval of the initiative, especially if a populist right-wing campaign manages to whip up enough emotions in the run-up to voting day, drawing scores of government critics to the polling booths.