The CSA is a world-wide network. The 140-strong Council is comprised of delegates from Swiss expatriates’ associations and communities abroad, 60 seats from within Europe and 60 from the rest of the world, and 20 delegates resident in Switzerland who have connections to the Swiss Abroad.
The number of delegates depends on the size of the registered Swiss community. Australia is entitled to four council seats and New Zealand has two seats allocated. Together they represent the region of Oceania, comprised of the English-speaking countries and territories under the diplomatic jurisdiction of the Swiss embassies in Canberra and Wellington.
At present, around 25,000 registered Swiss live in Australia and around 6,900 in New Zealand including the territories of Tokelau, Niue and Cook Islands. Around 200 registered Swiss reside in Papua New Guinea and on the independent island nations of Kiribati, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Vanuatu, Tuvalu, Nauru and Tonga.
Delegates are elected every four years by members of OSA-recognised Swiss expatriates’ associations. This modus operandi is under review. In order to increase legitimacy as representatives of their relevant community, the CSA is looking for ways to have future elections conducted in a more democratic manner that involves all registered Swiss residing in that country/region.
For the term 2017–2021 elections, Australia was one of only two countries that took part in an e-voting pilot program. This gave all eligible Swiss in Australia the opportunity to elect the current delegates.
Delegates residing in Switzerland are elected by the Council on recommendation by the Executive Board. They are personalities from the political, business and cultural fields who have the necessary expertise and connections to be able to address the concerns of their compatriots abroad and represent them effectively.
A lot has happened lately with regards to e-voting. There has been growing resistance and a fair bit of scare-mongering in Switzerland regarding the introduction of e-voting. Whilst the advantages are obvious to the government and the Swiss Abroad, sceptics argue that the trust in the democratic process is compromised due to e-security uncertainty and the cost of developing a secure system is also a concern. Earlier this year, a broad alliance of political parties has been collecting signatures for a popular initiative. Their aim is to ban the introduction of e-voting for at least five years.
The legislative body of the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA), the Council of the Swiss Abroad (CSA), met for its biannual meeting at the town hall in Bern on 23 March 2019. For the second time, the meeting followed on an exchange with Swiss parliamentarians for an update on political issues with relevance for the Swiss Abroad.
From 13 April to 29 September 2019, the Swiss Abroad will be featured in the Swiss History Forum in Schwyz as part of the exhibition ‘Switzerland elsewhere’.
Canton Geneva has announced it can no longer afford to bear the cost of an e-voting system and plans to abandon the project, according to Swiss public radio, RTS. This leaves only one other e-voting project still standing in Switzerland run by Swiss Post.
Read the full Swissinfo report here
The Consulate General of Switzerland in Sydney and the Embassy of Switzerland in Wellington inform that they plan to visit the following cities with the mobile passport station:
• Auckland (May)
• Northland (May – only if sufficient interest)
• Perth (first half of April)
• Melbourne (October)
Saturday, 15 September saw the ‘Young Swiss Citizen Celebration’ being held for the third time in Victoria. 15 young Swiss who recently celebrated their 18th birthday, and therefore have become fully-fletched Swiss citizens with all the rights and obligations that this entails, followed the invitation by the Hon. Consul, Manuela Erb, to a luncheon at the Swiss Club of Victoria. They were accompanied by their mums and dads, grandparents and brothers and sisters.
The Valais city of Visp hosted the 2018 Congress of the Swiss Abroad and assembly of the Council of the Swiss Abroad from August 10- 12. The social program included an excursion to the Ryffelberg-Gornergrat on the final day.
Members of the Council of the Swiss Abroad meeting in the town of Visp on Friday, 10 August approved plans to launch an online petition calling for the introduction of e-voting over the next three years. Oceania was represented at the meeting by Katja Wallimann Gates and Beat Knoblauch (pictured), Peter Ehrler and Peter Canziani.
OSA PRESS RELEASE: Bern, 28 June 2018 – The Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA) welcomes the Federal Council’s decision to commission the Federal Chancellery with the preparation of a project that makes e-voting a regular voting option. This decision represents a significant step forward in the introduction of e-voting and recognises it as a safe and reliable option. For Swiss Abroad, this e-voting is often the only way to exercise their political rights.
OSA PRESS RELEASE: Bern, 13 June 2018 – The Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA) representing the interests of 751,800 compatriots living abroad, is disappointed that the Council of States today rejected Motion 17.3626 by 30 votes to 9 with 4 abstentions. The Council of States has decided not to follow the majority of its Foreign Policy Commission (APK-S) and has rejected a motion calling on PostFinance to accept Swiss Abroad on similar terms as citizens residing in Switzerland. The problem that has existed for our compatriots living abroad for ten years remains unresolved.