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
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.
The Valais city of Visp hosted the 2018 Congress of the Swiss Abroad and the Council Meeting of the Swiss Abroad from August 10-12, with the final day excursion to the
The Council Meeting was attended by some 97 members and the debates were lively and animated. The following subjects were decided on or discussed:
It was decided to launch a petition to the Swiss Government to introduce e-voting on a national level as soon as possible. Currently only some Cantons offer this opportunity. Various speakers were asked previously to comment on the security systems built – in the e-voting platforms, whereby the Canton of Geneva assured their system to be proof. The Swiss Post developed another safe system, according to their representative. The petition has also to be seen in the light of some strong opposition to electronic voting efforts by some political parties from the right.
The Swiss victims of the Nazi Regime before and during WW2 should get a memorial in Switzerland: this was approved, and the Committee will make recommendations as to the form and location. In the debate leading to the resolution some members also wanted to commemorate (all) other Swiss victims of other international conflicts.
The Yearly Budget of the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad was approved with the inclusion of the publishing and distribution costs of the Swiss Review – which previously was handled by the Department of Foreign Affairs in Berne. The subsidy from the Government is equal to the previous allocated costs by the Government.
The CSA budget is very tight and not commensurate to the task it has undertaken. Your Delegate has suggested, that in addition to the Federal Subsidy, the committee should look for subsidies directly from the Cantons, as we are also citizens of specific cantons.
On other Budget matters: thanks to a generous donation by Bank Roche, the Delegates are being reimbursed some of their travel costs to Switzerland. Your Delegate received Swiss Francs 400, a first.
The Members of the Council wish to be better informed before national elections as to the position of all political parties and their candidates in regard to matters affecting the Swiss Abroad. Members also want to know of the voting record/habits of the Parliamentarians in this respect. For instance, it would be good to know which political party opposes dual citizenship.
Under this heading figured also a discussion on whether the Council of the Swiss Abroad should issue ‘How to Vote’ suggestions before Federal Elections or Referenda.
Representation of the Swiss Broad in the Federal National Council: the meeting took note of a members group working on various schemes to promote direct representation. No decisions taken.
The meeting acknowledged the efforts of a Swiss Parliamentarian Group formed especially to promote the interests of the Swiss Abroad. In March 2018 the first meeting took place with CSA members at the Parliament House in Berne. The Grouping encompasses 96 members.
Your Delegate made specific proposals. Even for the uninitiated it became apparent, that the CSA achieves its goals and aims only through the help of Swiss Parliamentarians.
The Congress Theme centered about the question ‘Swiss Sovereignty within the European context’. Various speakers tackled the problem. Absolute sovereignty is hardly possible within an integrated and interdependent society. Switzerland alone has signed hundreds of international treaties, is a member of international organisations, adheres to international conventions, all of which have rules re arbitration, reference to international tribunals, etc which limit in an agreed way the range of sovereignty. Some Swiss political activists want to resist jurisdiction of these ‘Foreign Judges’. But, turning the clock backwards will be difficult.
The CSA arranged for a range of excellent speakers on this subject, including a speech by the EU Representative to Switzerland. Switzerland’s economic dependence on some EU neighbouring countries was highlighted, especially the trade with our Northern neighbours such as Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg ,etc.
The next Congress will be held in Montreux 16-18 August 2019. The next CSA Meeting will be held in Berne on 23 March 2019. The Congress in 2020 will be held in Lugano.
Beat Knoblauch, CSA Delegate,Sydney, September 4, 2018
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.
Background photo credits: Depositphotos, Francine Schaepper Photography, Organisation of the Swiss Abroad, CSA Oceania
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Congress of the Swiss Abroad and the meeting of the Council of the Swiss Abroad (CSA) that were to be held in Lugano this August had to be postponed to next year. As a consequence – and as a first of its kind – the CSA meeting was conducted virtually, utilising the online conference system ‘Demio’. It took place on 10 July 2020 and a total of 86 delegates participated.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the meeting of the Council of the Swiss Abroad (CSA) on 14 March 2020 in Berne had to be cancelled. As a consequence - and as a first in the history of the organisation – the 127 delegates were asked to cast their votes electronically in matters that couldn’t be postponed until the next meeting.
Sadly, the Congress of the Swiss Abroad that was to be held in Lugano from 21 to 23 August 2020, and with it the CSA summer assembly, had to be cancelled.
Dear fellow Swiss
As you are all aware the Coronavirus (COVID-19) is quickly spreading around the world but the World Health Organisation (WHO) has not changed its warning level (public health emergency of international concern) since January 30, 2020.
Are you a student or graduate from a university, university of applied arts and sciences, a teacher training college or a qualified teacher seeking experience?
The exchange-programs offered by Movetia gives young students and graduates from abroad the opportunity to work as language teaching assistants in Swiss grammar schools, vocational schools and vocational baccalaureate schools. As native speakers, they bring a unique richness to the teaching of languages, as well as exemplifying cultural aspects of their country of origin.
The program is for young Swiss Abroad who were either born in a country where English, German, French, Spanish or Italian is the official national language or have lived there from the age of four. The paid position begins after the summer holidays and usually lasts a whole school year. The deadline for applications for the school year 2020/21 is 13 March. For further information and registration, please see the website.
The team of the Consulate General in Sydney will be visiting Brisbane QLD from 24 April to 1 May 2020 with the mobile passport station.
Provided enough interest is received, Cairns QLD will also be visited during this time.
Registered citizens in QLD, NT and northern NSW will be contacted by email or letter two months prior to the visit with detailed information regarding dates, venues and procedures. Please ensure that the Consulate General has your up-to-date personal data and email address.
The Consulate General aims to provide this service to its compatriots rotating the locations, servicing each capital city on a regular basis.
Saturday, 5 October saw the ‘Young Swiss Citizen Celebration’ being held for the fourth time in Melbourne. 13 young Swiss who recently celebrated their 18th birthday, and thus became fully-fletched Swiss citizens, followed the invitation by the Hon. Consul, Manuela Erb, to a luncheon at the Swiss Club of Victoria. They were accompanied by families and friends.
CSA elections in 2021: because the Swiss e-voting systems are on hold until further notice, direct election via e-voting of the CSA delegates (as per pilot projects in Australia and Mexico in 2016) will not be possible. The CSA Delegates in Australia will have the job to organise the next elections without certainty of assistance at this stage. Importance is given to umbrella organisations in countries where they exist, which will have the task to organise fair and democratic elections. Default solution is the ‘old System’ each country carried in the past.
The 50th Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Summit took place in Tuvalu from 13 to 16 August, 2019.
Switzerland is a success story, but it will have to evolve under fast changing international conditions. Therefore, foreign policy will become more important for Switzerland’s prosperity and security. Starting from these reflections, Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis established the AVIS28 working group in 2018 with the aim to define a coherent and adaptive foreign policy vision for Switzerland for 2028. AVIS28 is a source of inspiration and new ideas, and at the same time, it should initiate a broad discussion on the future of Swiss foreign policy. Switzerland needs the courage to change. Its foreign policy must become more focused, networked and agile. Switzerland should also work more closely with like-minded states, like Australia and New Zealand, towards their common goals.
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.
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.
OSA PRESS RELEASE: Bern, 30 May 2018 – The Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA) is relieved that the Council of States has today decided to follow the recommendation of its Commission on Social Security and Health (SGK-S) to delete the amendment to Article 4 (1) in the context of the supplementary benefits reform. This means that the current rules remain in place. Last March, the National Council approved an application whereby Swiss Abroad would have had to pay social security contributions (AHV) for at least ten years in order to qualify for supplementary benefits, which would have discriminated against Swiss Abroad.