Shop all week--but not for 'Frankenfood'; Swiss voters said 'yes' and 'yes' to the two proposals on the table at the last referendum of 2005. The outcome opens the door to shopping on Sundays but leaves genetically modified foods off the grocery list.

Author:Anderson, Robert

In a popular vote on November 27, the Swiss citizenry approved the revision in the federal labour law that will ease restrictions on shops located in busy transportation hubs, allowing them to remain open on Sundays. Approved by a razor-thin margin of 23,020 votes, the nation was divided along cantonal lines, with 19 cantons against, seven for, and the show of support in Canton Zurich swaying the outcome in favour of the proposal.

In the end, it all came down to the numbers: 50.57 per cent in support versus 49.45 per cent against and a below-average voter turnout of just 41.8 per cent. A simple majority of the electorate was needed for passage.

The new law allows shops to open in the retail and services sectors at six airports and 25 train stations recording a high volume of national and regional passengers. And it is expected to preserve roughly 2,000 jobs for those who have been working on Sundays. To date, Sunday shopping has been offered at airports and seven railway stations.

Indeed, lifestyles, employment trends and consumer habits have changed dramatically in Switzerland in recent years, and many proponents of the new law say such liberalisation of shopping hours was long overdue to adapt to these changes in society. And although Economics Minister Joseph Deiss welcomed the outcome of the vote, he warned against any moves toward further deregulation of labour laws when it comes to the Sabbath.

Distaste for GMF

The Swiss electorate and all 26 cantons clearly had no appetite for genetically modified foods (GMF), giving the thumbs up to the popular initiative calling for a five-year moratorium on the commercial use...

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