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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
On 10 March 2018, at he CSA meeting in Bern, the executive of the OSA announced that it had entered into a partnership with the Geneva Cantonal Bank (BCGE).
More information is available under the topic Swiss Banks.
The Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA) would like to know about difficulties you have encountered in the area of health insurance and the practical problems that you face as a Swiss person living abroad. This may be of specific relevance to those living temporarily in the Oceania region or those in need for travel insurance when visiting Switzerland. By the same token, if you have had positive experiences or wish to share good practices, please do so!
The purpose is to look at ways of improving the situation of Swiss people living abroad in this regard.
You can send your experiences and suggestions to us delegates and/or directly to the head office in Bern: email@example.com