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April Fools Day in Switzerland

April Fools Day
Every year on April Fools Day, people in Switzerland play pranks on each other. We did this as children and still do it as adults. Also, most Swiss newspapers, radio stations and TV stations allow themselves a little April Fools prank. Much like the famous broadcast about spaghetti growing on trees in Switzerland and Italy by BBC in 1957, the Swiss insert little made up news stories every on April 1st into their regular programs.

When Fake News is to be expected

In the last years those fake news stories included e.g. a story about the canton of Appenzell distributing money to its citizens, one about communities in the canton of Thurgau suing the Circus Knie for not giving more performances in their canton, and a story about a chapel wagon for prayer that was added to each train of the Rhätische Bahn. Swiss Radio DRS let their listeners vote on the best pranks of the year.

An April Fools Day Riddle

Now, I know I am not a newspaper and I cannot as easily hide an untruth in my blog. Instead, I thought of giving you a little April Fools Day riddle much in the style of Swiss newspapers. Three entries about Swiss politics of which one of them is (partly) false. Can you guess which?!

1. The Swiss federal council is Switzerland's governing body. Seven federal counsellors are elected by the national assemblies for a period of seven years. Contrary to cabinets of other countries, where a prime minister basically leads a group of selected ministers, all Swiss federal counsellors have equal rights and power. The seven counsellors together also function as head of state. In 2010 Switzerland became known for being the first country that had a majority of women in its cabinet: four women federal counsellors and three men federal counsellors.

2. Switzerland has been known for being a democratic country. In 1848 a federal constitution declared and organized the rights and duties of Swiss citizens, including the right to vote after reaching the age of 18. However, the right to vote was basically only granted to christian males. Jews in Switzerland received the right to vote in 1866 in the course of a revision of the constitution. Women had to wait much longer. While several cantons gave women the right to vote in the 1960ies (e.g. Geneva and Basel), a national decision on the matter was only reached in 1971. In a federal vote, the Swiss people granted women the right to vote. Some more conservative cantons did not allow women to vote on cantonal matters until 1990.
3. Voting and electing per mail (snail mail that is) has been possible in Switzerland for a long time now. Instead of going to the polling stations you simply write your opinion on the matter (YES or NO) on the ballot paper, put it in the official envelope and mail it to your local government. In recent years, Switzerland has introduced electronic voting for its citizens. Electronic voting works similarly to e-banking: type in your AHV-Nummer (Swiss social security number) and a personal password, and a few minutes later you'll receive a random code sent to your mobile phone which allows you to log into your voting account. In last years elections, about 50% of all votes were given electronically. Most of the electronic votes came from people under the age of 40. In a statement, the Swiss government declared its goal of replacing all classic paper voting by 2020.

Obviously, I'll give you the solution only tomorrow! Have a great April Fools Day and enjoy the beautiful weather! I'm off to celebrate my dads birthday - no joke!



  1. And the answer is: #3 is not entirely true. So far, electronic voting has only been possible for a small portion of the population in the framework of a testing phase. The canton of Geneva is currently the main test subject. :)

  2. I agree with Miss Peaches. I live abroad and Switzerland lets us vote electronically for some time now but as far as I know in Switzerland itself only Geneva, Neuchatel and Zürich are able to vote electronically.


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