The ‘naysayers’ (if I may translate loosely the German expression ‘Neinsager’ which the French-speaking Swiss are so keen to use to describe their counterparts on the other side of the country) have had it their way again (but this time on both sides of the Röstigraben, the imaginary border dividing the French-speaking Swiss from their German-speaking counterparts as based on a dish of grated potatoes) as the Swiss people voted this morning (or earlier if they had done so by putting their voter’s slip in the mail) overwhelmingly against the three initiatives that they had been called to vote on. In a nutshell, the first proposed to abolish the lump sum tax privilege for wealthy foreigners; the second to cap population growth through immigration to 0.2% annually so as to preserve Switzerland’s natural resources; as for the third, it proposed to force the country’s national bank to increase its gold reserves to 20% of the assets it holds and to maintain them at that level thereafter.

DSCN7340[Voter’s envelope, explanation booklet, slip and card for the vote of 30 Nov 2014; click to enlarge]

DSCN7341[Vote recommendations issued by the political parties; click to enlarge]

The results of today’s nationwide vote on these three proposals were predictable given that the country’s political parties, the Swiss government as well as the Swiss media had all (with only a few exceptions here and there) recommended that the Swiss people reject all three initiatives.

DSCN7347[Ballot station in a school at Chailly, Lausanne]

I am not going to comment on the results or even on the relatively low turnout rate (49.4%). Rather I am going to describe what I did after I had dropped my envelope in the ballot box. Instead of heading back up home, I decided to go to town to take pictures of some of the electoral posters that were used during the campaign. Just like outdoor advertising, political propaganda posters must use simple messages (usually a combination of text and image) to grab a passer-by’s attention and convince her/him of the validity of a particular political point of view.

Strangely, I did not come across any posters issued by political parties, probably because the initiatives had come from associations of like-minded people as opposed to mainstream political parties. One such association is Swiss Respect, which, according to its website, ‘works to protect Swiss interests from attacks on our legal and economic system by “partners” seeking to destabilise us’ (of course, ‘our’ and ‘us’ refer to the Swiss people).

Political posters  for the Swiss vote of 30 Nov 2014 [Political posters mainly against the initiative to abolish tax privileges, as seen in Lausanne, 30 Nov; click to enlarge]

Playing on the national colours (red and white) and using some rather crude imagery (a Wilhelm Tell with what seems to be his own arrow stuck in his head, thus indicating suicide, a piggy bank smashed in two, factory workers being eliminated and a huge golden ball about to smash the Swiss national bank) for the visual part and using slogans such as ‘The end of Switzerland’s prosperity: who is going to have to pay?’, ‘Taxes will rise for everybody: who is going to have to pay?’, ‘25,000 jobs to be lost: who is going to have to pay?’ and ‘Weakening the national bank? Initiative on gold. No!’, these posters use a simple but time-proven political strategy: instilling the fear that any change to the status quo will prove extremely harmful to one’s purse/wallet.

DSCN7367[Political poster backing the ‘gold initiative’, as seen at Lausanne railway station, 30 Nov]

The only poster in favour of any of the three initiatives I saw during my two hour plus walk from the ballot station at Chailly to Lausanne’s railway station via parts of the Old Town, namely one that backed the so-called ‘Save our Swiss gold’ initiative, was hardly any more sophisticated…

DSCN7371[Poster against ‘Ecopop’ opposite Lausanne’s railway station, 30 Nov; click to enlarge]

The only poster on the highly controversial initiative against population growth, the so-called ‘Ecopop’ initiative, I spotted was also quite crude. I was a little disappointed that I did not manage to find a poster in favour of the initiative displayed in the streets of Lausanne.

www.ecopop.ch[Screenshot from the Ecopop’ website, prior to the results]

So here is a screenshot of the top part of the website of the ‘Ecopop’ backers. A Switzerland turned into Singapore, hardly any better, I must say.

DSCN7362[Posters advertising exhibitions held in Geneva, rue des Terreaux, Lausanne, 30 Nov; click to enlarge]

DSCN7358[Poster advertising an exhibition at the Museum of Outsider Art, Lausanne, 30 Nov; click to enlarge]

Fortunately, I did come across some more interesting posters during my stroll. In fact, I was surprised at the number and the quality of the posters advertising cultural events.

DSCN7363[A poster explaining why one ought to take part in Lausanne’s Xmas Run]

I also saw a poster for a running event a friend is urging me to take part in, Lausanne’s Christmas Midnight Run.

DSCN7353[‘We are not to be taken or sold. Fight sexism.’]

I came across several pieces of feminist graffiti, which were a welcome change from the sexism of most commercial ads that populate our streets. However, if only they had used chalk instead of paint, this would have been more civic.

DSCN7352[Plaque indicating that Catherine Kousmine had once lived at this address; click to enlarge]

When I passed near the street where Catherine Kousmine, a famous nutritionist of Russian origins, had lived, I decided to make a detour to be able to take a picture of the plaque commemorating her name and achievements displayed at the very address where she had lived from 1934 to 1961.

DSCN7357[One of Lausanne’s gems, the cathedral; click to enlarge]

A little later on, I walked to the cathedral but I did not go inside as a religious ceremony was being held there. The cathedral of Lausanne (which was completed in 1275) is without doubt the most beautiful in Switzerland and, whenever I can do so, I like to go inside this superb Gothic monument and enjoy the spirituality which the place is infused in.

 DSCN7364[Display of lanterns at Place Bel-Air, Lausanne; click to enlarge]

At place Bel-Air, I decided to snap a picture of the display of lanterns put up as part of the Christmas decorations in Lausanne. Maybe I should have taken a picture of the many wooden huts that stand at place Saint-François and elsewhere for the festive season.

DSCN7372[Uninspiring poster on a newspaper box, 30 Nov 2014]

As I did not see many posters in the railway station, I decided to take a ride back home on the métro (armed with the weekend edition of a famous UK business newspaper). As I stepped out of the station near home, I noticed this small poster displayed in front of a newspaper box. ‘No, no, no!’, I said to myself, ‘it is not with such headlines that I am going to buy your paper’ and I could not help but conclude that political poster propagandists are not the only ones who might gain from thinking a little out of the box.

Articles commenting the results on the Swiss press agency’s website (Swissinfo)

Previous articles on the initiative to abolish tax privileges for wealthy foreign residents

On the initiative to curb population growth through immigration

On the initiative to boost the gold reserves of the Swiss national bank (‘Save our Swiss gold’)

Other entries on previous nationwide votes on this blog

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