VOX analysis: The source of information shaped the decision in favour of the Covid 19 Act.

14.01.2022 | Tobias Keller, GFS Bern

No voters were more likely to inform themselves about the Covid 19 law via social media, while Yes voters were more likely to do so via traditional media. Moreover, since the introduction of women’s suffrage in 1971, the average voter turnout has never been higher than in 2021. This is confirmed by the results of the survey of 3,420 voters in the VOX analysis of November 2021. The study was conducted by gfs.bern and funded by the Federal Chancellery.

The Corona pandemic has strongly influenced the vote on three occasions. Firstly, the day-to-day efforts with the Corona pandemic have polarised the pro and con camps more strongly: While SVP sympathisers said No more clearly, GLP and FDP sympathisers as well as sympathisers from other parties voted Yes more clearly compared to the June vote. No voters used fewer editorial sources, but for example street posters, online comments or social media more frequently than Yes voters. Secondly, the pandemic has pushed overall voter turnout to a new record high: the average turnout has never been higher than in 2021 since the introduction of women’s suffrage in 1971. Thirdly, the pandemic has also made visible the long-standing nursing crisis, which has led to great solidarity with nursing staff. Clapping is not enough, which is why the nursing staff will be better off. The judiciary initiative was little affected by the Corona pandemic: the electorate decided against the lottery system, even though it wants party-independent judges and election opportunities for non-party judges. This is confirmed by the results of the survey of 3,420 voters in the VOX Analysis November 2021. The study was conducted by gfs.bern and financed by the Federal Chancellery.


Praise and support from the electorate for the Covid 19 law

On 15 June 2021, when the vote on the Covid 19 Act was over, it was literally: after the vote is before the vote. Because the referendum was immediately held against amended parts of the Covid 19 Act and about five months later the vote was held again. In November, the approval was even more pronounced than in June: from 60 per cent approval, it rose to 62 per cent. From young to old and from left to right – hardly any group voted No by a majority. The exceptions are the unvaccinated, SVP sympathisers and those who trust the opposition to the measures or the “Friends of the Constitution”. Compared to the vote in June, the camps have become more polarised: While SVP sympathisers said a clear ‘No’, FDP and GLP sympathisers voted more clearly ‘Yes’. People with other party sympathies no longer voted No, but rather Yes by a majority. In German-speaking Switzerland, there was a higher overall Yes share than in the first vote in June 2021, and less in French-speaking Switzerland.

The counter-arguments focused on the measures and the dissatisfaction with the Corona policy. Contrary are the pro-arguments, which were expressed much more frequently: The aim is to support the current Corona policy, to defeat the pandemic and to show solidarity. For this, the Covid certificate is seen as an important support. Although both opponents and supporters used various media intensively, promotional or user-generated content such as street posters, online comments on news portals, social media and YouTube were clearly more important sources for opponents. Conversely, Yes voters paid even more attention to television, radio, newspapers and the Federal Booklet than No voters. For those who were vaccinated, the additional benefit of the certificate was relevant for the decision in November. This benefit outweighed the opponents’ concerns that the certificate would create a two-class society. Finally, the result of the vote also shows the trust that the Federal Council enjoys among the population: The fundamentally high level of trust in the Federal Council also helped to ensure that the Covid 19 Act was clearly adopted.

The second Covid 19 vote was given record high importance

The turnout of 65.7 per cent on 28 November 2021 (Covid 19 Bill) was the fourth highest turnout since the introduction of women’s suffrage in 1971. With this very high turnout, 2021 was also the year with the highest median turnout since 1971. Unlike the vote of 15 June 2021 with the first referendum on the Covid 19 Bill, 2021 was the year with the highest median turnout since 1971. June 2021 with the first referendum on the Covid 19 Act, when two agricultural policy bills were still the ones with the highest attributed importance, the second referendum was clearly the lead bill: the mean attributed importance on a scale of 0-10 reached only 7.0 in the first referendum vote, now the importance rose to 8.8 in the second Covid 19 Act vote, clearly the highest mean value of the last two legislatures. The debate, which was particularly polarised by the referendum committee, mobilised the political poles exceptionally strongly and also moved very many people to participate who only do so in particularly important votes.


Yes against the nursing crisis clearly visible in the pandemic

The nursing initiative was the first ever left-wing union initiative to be adopted. The clear acceptance came about through strong support from voters from the left-green camp and the political centre. Thus, the “yes” slogans of the SP, the Greens and the GLP as well as the abstention from voting from the centre were probably relevant. The Yes vote was also an expression of confidence in the trade unions and in the nursing staff, and was reinforced with values for a strong welfare state and for solidarity. There were also the extraordinary circumstances of the pandemic, which explain the overwhelmingly clear acceptance of the initiative. The most important motive cited by the “yes” side was the nursing crisis, which was brought to the fore by the pandemic. As one of the most frequently mentioned first motives, many Yes voters also wanted to express their appreciation for the work of nursing in the pandemic. Those who also had a direct connection to nursing also voted more strongly in favour of the proposal. Finally, a clear majority voted in favour of the bill if they saw their vote as influenced by the pandemic. Even the No voters supported the Yes arguments very clearly when measures against the nursing crisis or improvements in working conditions were demanded. The No camp, which was strongly influenced by supporters of the FDP and SVP, nevertheless did not want such state interference with a special position for nursing in the constitution and judged the counter-proposal better.


No coincidence desired in the election of federal judges

The justice initiative focused on electing federal judges by lot. However, the electorate clearly rejected the initiative. The majority of the opponents came from centre and right-wing parties, but there was also no majority on the left. Even among those with less confidence in judges, the Federal Supreme Court and political parties, no majorities were found in favour of the bill. The reasons for a yes were that judges should act independently of parties, that the new system would be fairer and that non-partisans could be elected. But the counter-arguments, that the election would degenerate into a game of chance and that the current system was one of the best in the world, were much more convincing. The bottom line is that the lottery system was not convincing, even though about half of the electorate is in favour of party-independent judges and wants to enable the election of non-partisans.


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Tobias Keller

Tobias Keller

Project manager and Team Lead Data Analytics