The young people in the supporting role: Mobilisation from the countryside led to a CO2 No.

30.07.2021 | Tobias Keller, GFS Bern

The combination of the five proposals on 13 June 2021 led to a unique dynamic in the referendum campaign:  mobilisation of the “right”, of people who have less trust in the Federal Council and people in rural regions led not only to a clear No to the two agricultural initiatives (on drinking water and a ban on pesticides), but also to a No to the CO2 law. The role of young people in the rejection of the CO2 initiative must be put into perspective and viewed in a nuanced way. This is shown in the data from the VOX analysis of 13 June 2021, for which around 3,000 voters were surveyed.

On the voting Sunday of 13 June 2021, almost 60 percent of the electorate cast their vote. Mobilisation in the countryside was high and strongly characterised by solidarity with the farming community against the agricultural policy proposals (see: Milic, 2021). In addition, there was an increased mobilisation of people who place themselves “on the right” or “on the far right” on a left-right scale, who tend to trust the Federal Council less strongly, but who trust farmers strongly and for whom price considerations play a central role. Thus, not only people sympathetic to the farming community were mobilised, but can also be described as price-sensitive middle class. Since price sensitivity played an important role in shaping opinion on the CO2 law, more CO2 No voters were thus also mobilised due to the strong mobilisation of the agricultural initiatives. A double No vote on the agricultural initiatives is also the best predictor to explain the Yes or No vote on the CO2 Act. Age plays a subordinate role in different multi-factorial models.


The young and CO2

If the focus is nevertheless placed on the young and the CO2 law, then according to the VOX data the following picture emerges in the aggregate: a majority of 62 percent of 18-29 year-olds said yes to the CO2 law. The 30-39 year-olds also voted Yes with 58 percent. The majority of those over 40, on the other hand, said no. And because the proportion of voters in most referenda, as was the case on 13 June, is significantly higher among older people than among younger people, the decision on the CO2 Act went against the opinion of the young. The median age of those who voted on 13 June was 53.


Exception: the young in the countryside

However, it is also possible to find subgroups of people who do not correspond to the median or the aggregate. An interesting “exception” is the rural boys: across almost all age groups, those “from the countryside” said no to the CO2 law. The “no” vote of younger people (40% “yes” among 20-29 year-olds) is similarly strong for the CO2 law as that of older people (31% “yes” among 60-69 year-olds). This result should also be understood in the light of the mobilisation of the agricultural initiatives: Many young people from the countryside are likely to have voted for the first time ever.

The VOX data will be freely accessible to all interested parties from mid-August and can soon be downloaded from Swissvotes (in anonymised form). Access for scientific purposes (in a less anonymised form) will be possible via FORS.

If you have any questions concerning this post, please contact our expert for background information, insights and the methods and models used.

Tobias Keller

Tobias Keller

Project manager and Team Lead Data Analytics