On Sunday, June 17, 2012, the electorate of the Canton of Geneva will cast its vote on a thorny issue concerning all families with young children: The initiative 143 "Pour une véritable politique d'accueil de la Petite enfance".
Family life in Geneva is blighted by a chronic shortage of nursery places, which affects not only expats but Swiss people, too. According to a survey conducted by Swiss magazine "Femina", 66.2% of Swiss Romands believe there are not enough nursery places for their children, and 51% of them have never been able to secure a place.
Swiss parents are currently fighting for more nursery places and - as an expat mum-of-three - I have to admit I would love to high-five all the Swiss voters currently campaigning on the streets of the city.
The cantonal referendum, which will settle the matter of granting nursery places to all residents in the Canton of Geneva, has been called for June 17 but, unfortunately, since expats within the Canton of Geneva are only allowed to vote in communal elections if they have lived here legally for a minimum of 8 years, high-fiving is indeed all I can do at the moment.
During the four years I have spent here as an expat, I have grown to love and admire the fierce, take-no-prisoners approach that the Swiss apply to their national political debates. In a world that's spiraling into PC overdrive, I love the fact that you can always rely on a Swiss to give it to you straight.
After all, the Emperor's not always wearing his best clothes, is he?
Here are some photos of the political posters about this referendum that are currently adorning the streets of Geneva. My personal favorite is the first one, which roughly translates as "Make Love, Leave the Rest to Us".
If I have read this correctly you would like the state to pay (In other words tax payers) for kids to go Nursery before they start Kindergarten at 4 (State funded)?
I don’t agree and I think it’s the responsibility of the parents to pay for this or one parent to stay at home, in Switzerland this is possible because we pay low taxes and get high wages. Which country in the world pays for the care of a child before they start funded school? Some countries fund it depending on your personal situation.
If I have misread something I apologise.
Dear Fergus, thanks for your comment. It’s nice of you to ask what I want, since as a tax-paying expat who’s lived here for 4 years and therefore cannot vote, it is entirely irrelevant to the system what I wish for.
It would be great to have a choice between private or state-funded nurseries. The reality is that this is not the case, as private nurseries in Geneva can be counted on half the fingers of one hand. The insufficient number of nursery places does affect first and foremost Swiss families in the Suisse Romande, hence their stance to improve the situation.
Expats who move here working with commercial companies are taxed, it is only expats on diplomatic assignments that are tax-exempt.
I am also the first to say that the Swiss government should not be burdened by unnecessary spends (such as for instance WRS), but increasing the number of nursery places – where the shortage is clear and documented, would benefit Swiss families first and then – as a trickle effect – expat families too.
I’d be more than happy to pay for a place in a private nursery if they had one. Unfortunately, they are currently oversubscribed and unable to fullfil the demand. I agree with your stance but I wonder why the Canton doesn’t allow many more private nurseries to be opened. Since we pay all the taxes that are required of us as residents in this Canton, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to be given at least the choice.
Thanks again for reading and for sharing your point of view.
Kindest regards, Michela
Thanks for the big reply!
Yes I lived here for eight years paying tax before I could vote (8 instead of 5) that’s another story! As you know each canton is different & I would say that Geneva is one of the more liberal ones, hence why you will be able to vote on a local level after you have lived there for 8 years (Not the case in Zürich!)
You wonder why the canton doesn’t allow many more private nurseries to be opened? I imagine it would go against the grain of what life “should be like….Mum stays at home to look after kids before they go to state funded school” even when they go to that most still come home for a “cooked lunch” BTW it’s sandwiches in our home!
It will be an interesting vote which I will be watching.
PS: In my wonderful New Zealand you just have to be a legal resident to vote on all levels, how refreshing!
Hi Fergus, yes I’ll definitely be watching with interest too! The situation definitely needed to be addressed. It is interesting that the referendum proposal took this specific shape (could indeed be because of Canton Geneva’s more liberal politics). I am all pro-choice and glad something at least is being done, for the first time in the 4 years that I’ve lived here. Take care & let’s see what Sunday will bring ! All the best, Michela