With only 35 percent of the votes in favor, the residents of the canton of Zurich gave a clear rebuff to parental leave last Sunday. Only the city of Zurich spoke out in favor of the SP initiative, which called for 18 weeks of parental leave for new mothers and fathers. And that only with just under 53 percent.
The initiators are sobered. One had certainly hoped for more, said the Zurich SP National Councilor Min Li Marti (47) to the “Tages-Anzeiger”. The canton of Zurich’s no is a “strong damper” for national parental leave: “It’s more difficult to launch something in Bern after you’ve shipped off in Zurich like that.”
Young party advances
And yet there is a desire to do so. However, it is not the left who are pushing forward after the parental leave defeat in Zurich. But young politicians from the bourgeois camp.
“You shouldn’t interpret the no in Zurich in such a way that you don’t have a chance in the next ten years anyway,” says Marc Rüdisüli (23), President of the Junge Mitte. Rather, it has shown that the demand for parental leave only has a chance at national level. “In addition, it must be supported by the economy and be pragmatic.”
How much parental leave can Switzerland tolerate?
In order to find a compromise that can win a majority, Junge Mitte is now spending money and commissioning a survey. The young party wants to know from the population: How much parental leave can Switzerland take? Specifically, one wants to find out what ideas and demands young families have today and which form of financing has the most support, says Rüdisüli.
Depending on the result, Junge Mitte then wants to bring partners on board. “First and foremost, we want to try to unblock the issue nationally between left and right. We are also willing to get involved with political initiatives, if necessary via a popular initiative, »announces Rüdisüli.
Pressure on parent party
With its advance, Junge Mitte is also making steam for its own parent party. In parliament, she had already resisted four weeks of paternity leave instead of two. “The center has to move faster on this topic,” says Rüdisüli. Especially as a self-proclaimed family party.
The young party is not the only actor who wants to promote national parental leave – despite the flop in the vote in Zurich. A national popular initiative for parental leave was announced two years ago. Namely from the Public Beta Foundation, behind which stands democracy activist Daniel Graf (49), who was also largely responsible for the Frontex referendum.
First attempt flopped
The initiative should actually have been launched by a broad alliance in 2021. But because no one could agree on a specific parental leave model, the project came to nothing.
However, Graf emphasizes that this does not mean that it has been written off. It is clear to him that he will not take the lead. But discussions are in progress and the will to move forward together is there. “I’m very confident that a broad-based parental leave initiative can start in about a year,” he says.