Streaming and organ donation go to popular vote in Switzerland

Cota local de conteúdos em serviços de streaming, como a Netflix, e outros temas foram submetidos a referendo na Suíça no último domingo

Local quota for content on streaming services, such as Netflix, and other topics were submitted to a referendum in Switzerland last Sunday| Photo: EFE/Christian Monterrosa

The last day 15 was the date of yet another round of popular referendums in Switzerland. Periodically, we comment on the matter here in our international policy space, both because of the healthy Swiss custom of consulting the population on various topics, and because many of these discussions are also valid for Brazilian society, and can serve as an example, both positive and negative. .

On other occasions, we comment on the origins of referendums in Switzerland, as the fact that, when parliament passes a law, a popular petition can be articulated and, if the petition succeeds 30 a thousand signatures within a period of one hundred days, the approval of the law is suspended and it is decided in a simple majority referendum. The same process occurs if a third of the cantons, the Swiss “states”, defy the law.

There is also active popular participation. If a bill drafted by citizens achieves 100 a thousand subscriptions within a period of 18 months, it will also be submitted to popular vote, being able to gain force of law after parliamentary discussion. None of the three votes from the last day 15 was one of those cases, however. All were topics in which the referendum was a mandatory step.

Services streaming and organ transplantation2022

In two cases, one referendum is necessary because it involves changing Swiss federal laws and another because it involves changing national foreign policy. The first of them, Amendment to the Federal Law on Film Production and Culture, was dubbed the “Netflix Law”. Currently, by the constitution, television stations are required to invest at least 4% of their income in local productions.

With the changing times, however, many people have switched to streaming services. The consultation proposed placing streaming services in the same category as television broadcasters. That is, streaming services would have to direct at least 4% of their local income to Swiss productions. The proposal also requires that at least 30% of the streaming content available in the country is from European productions.

The proposal was supported by parliament and most parties, claiming that there would be an unequal treatment between television stations and streaming platforms, which should, according to them, in essence, be treated as the same thing. Critics of the proposal claimed that the cost of services would increase, with the eventual 4% share being passed on to consumers in the price of service subscription packages.

The second amendment proposal voted on, the Amendment to the Federal Law on Organ, Tissue and Cell Transplantation, deals with a very important issue for any society. Under Swiss law, a person would only qualify as an organ donor if they had explicitly consented to the procedure at some point in their life. The presumption was one of objection and, when in doubt, the decision was passed on to the family, with many refusals.

As a consequence, the queue for some organ donations has increased significantly in recent years. The proposal in the referendum reversed the reasoning. Now, consent would be presumed, needing an explicit statement in life of objection to the procedure. The role of the family, however, would continue, which generated some discussion, as some accused the law of not being clear about possible objection from family members.

Again, the proposal was supported by parliament and most parties, stating that the legislative change would still maintain the role of the family and increase the possibilities for organ transplants that can save lives. Critics of the proposal argued that it would violate individual rights and that, with the presumption of consent, many people would be organ donors against their particular beliefs.

Borders of the European Union2022

Finally, the third proposal influences the country’s foreign policy, the adoption of the European Union regulation on the European Border and Coast Guard. This can be strange, since Switzerland is not part of the EU, but is part of the Schengen area, the European common area, since 2005. As such, it is part of Frontex, responsible for monitoring the external borders of the Schengen area.

In 2019, before the pandemic, due to the migration crisis resulting from the war in Syria, the EU voted by the expansion of Frontex, with an increase in personnel and resources. In 2015, the agency’s budget was 143 millions of euros. Last year its budget was 660 million, almost four times as much. The Swiss federal government has agreed to the expansion, but this requires the consent of the electorate to take effect.

This vote was the least polarized in the Swiss public debate, with only part of the radical left against participation in Frontex, for allegedly injuring the rights of people seeking refuge. The fact that putting Swiss participation in Frontex in check could imply questioning, and even removing, the country’s presence in the Schengen area as a whole weighed in favor.

The referendum was unfortunately attended by only 40% of the electorate. In contrast, the November referendum of 20163435 was attended by 60% of voters. This time, all three proposals were approved. The “Netflix Law” with 58 .4% of the votes, the amendment on organ donation with 60, 2% of the votes and, finally, the participation in Frontex was approved with 71, 4% of votes.

The Swiss will vote in two more rounds of referendums in 2022, in September and in November. Of course, the Swiss reality, due to its dimensions and population, favors this profusion of popular consultations, and it is difficult to do the same thing in a country with the dimensions of Brazil, but it is worth admiring and understanding the functioning of a democratic society that can serve as a example.

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