The long running controversy over a proposed 150% rise in the cost of Switzerland’s motorway vignette comes to a head in a referendum this Sunday.
This Sunday (24 November) citizens vote on the government’s proposal to raise the price of the motorway vignette from 40CHF to 100CHF (£27-£68) from 2016.
Under Switzerland’s system of Direct Democracy, up to four times a year initiatives can be put to a popular vote if the opposition collects 50,000 signatures within 100 days.
The campaign against the vignette price rise – and plan for a two month tourist vignette costing 40CHF – collected well over 100,000 signatures.
The latest opinion polls have the two sides fairly evenly matched though momentum is with those against.
GFS Research in Bern says 50% are for the rise – down three percentage points on the previous poll – while 46% of voters are against, up five percentage points. Four percent are undecided, down two percentage points.
Switzerland’s vignette – a sticker attached to the inside of the windscreen allowing drivers to use the motorways – was introduced in 1985. The price was increased to 40CHF in 1995 and has remained at this level ever since.
Government says it needs to raise money to pay for improvements to the network, especially as responsibility for an extra 383km of roads is due to pass from the regional to the national network.
Opposition call the 100CHF vignette a ‘rip-off’ and say small businesses with vehicle fleets will be hit disproportionately hard. They also object to tourists paying a reduced fee even though, pro rata, foreign drivers will pay more.
If the law fails to pass there have been dark rumours that fuel will increase by up to 9c per litre.
The first results should start to come in on Sunday lunchtime (update: see what happened here).