Swiss referendums, 1999

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Ten referendums were held in Switzerland during 1999.[1] The first four were held on 7 February on changes to the eligibility for membership of the Federal Council (approved), constitutional regulations on organ transplantation (approved), a popular initiative "house ownership for everyone" (rejected) and an amendment to the federal law on spatial planning (approved). The fifth was held on 18 April on a new Swiss Federal Constitution, which was approved.[1]

The last five referendums were held on 13 June on the asylum law (approved), on a federal resolution on asylum and foreigners (approved), a federal resolution on the medical prescription of heroin (approved), federal laws on disability and maternity insurance (both rejected).[1]


New constitution

The proposed new constitution would sever the link between gold and the Swiss franc, which had been required by the old constitution.[2][3][4][5]

The Swiss National Bank was the last central bank to hold substantial gold reserves to back its currency.[6][7][8] The 2590 tonnes of gold provided 40% of the value of the franc.[9][10]


Month Question For Against Blank/invalid Total Registered
Turnout Cantons for Cantons against
Votes % Votes % Blank Invalid Full Half Full Half
FebruaryFederal Council membership eligibility1,287,08174.7436,51125.334,5045,4571,764,4534,641,61538.018620
Organ transplantation regulations1,501,92587.8209,26312.246,2165,4711,762,87538.020600
House ownership for everyone721,71741.31,025,02558.719,8175,4101,771,96938.230176
Spatial planning law amendment952,48255.9750,13044.153,7155,6991,762,02638.0
AprilNew constitution969,31059.2669,15840.823,3355,0661,666,8694,642,85435.912284
JuneAsylum law1,443,13770.6601,38929.466,1567,2822,117,9644,646,36245.6
Federal resolution on foreigners and asylum1,447,98470.8595,90829.268,6957,1252,119,71245.6
Medical prescription of heroin1,128,39354.4944,91945.645,2976,7602,125,36945.7
Federal law on disability insurance620,79730.31,428,98669.763,7747,1022,120,65945.6
Federal law on maternity insurance822,45839.01,286,82461.019,1466,4562,134,88445.9
Source: Nohlen


The new constitution approved in April made the franc fully fiat, and the Swiss National Bank began selling its gold reserves.[11][12] Some of the proceeds were used to set up a "solidarity fund" with developing nations. By November, the gold stockpile was reduced to 25%.[13][14][15]


  1. 1 2 3 Nohlen, D & Stöver, P (2010) Elections in Europe: A data handbook, p1940 ISBN 9783832956097
  2. Article 39 (7) of the Swiss Federal Constitution of 1874 read that banknotes must be covered by gold and short term securities.
  3. David Jobbins, "Eye Witness", Times Higher Education Supplement, 16 April 1999.
  4. "Swiss Narrowly Vote to Drop Gold Standard", The New York Times, April 19, 1999., Retrieved May 6, 2012.
  5. Dan Atkinson, "Worm's Eye on the Bullion Tactics of Swiss Elite", The Guardian, 12 April 1999., Retrieved 6 May 2012.
  6. Ulrik Bie and Astrid Henneberg Pedersen, "The Role of Gold in the Monetary System", Monetary review - 3rd Quarter 1999, Danmarks Nationalbank
  7. Robert Mundell, "The International Monetary System in the 21st Century: Could Gold Make A Come Back?", Lecture delivered at St. Vincent College, Letrobe, Pennsylvania, March 12, 1997, at
  8. Paul Krugman, "The Gold Bug Variations", Slate, No. 23, 1996.
  9. "Swiss Gold - On Hold.". Business Wire. Gale Group. 15 April 1999. Retrieved 17 September 2011.
  10. Roth, Jean-Pierre, "A View on Switzerland in the Run up to the Demonetarisation of Gold", 22nd Annual FT World Gold Conference, London, 1999.
  11. (French)"La loi sur l'unité monétaire et les moyens de paiement supprimera la parité du franc et de l'or", 26. mai 1999, Communiqués de presse, Département fédéral des finances DFF.
  12. Robert Mundell & Milton Friedman, (2001) "One World, One Money? Robert Mundell and Milton Friedman debate the virtues - or not - of fixed exchange rates, gold, and a world currency", Options Politique, Mai 2001, at
  13. "Gold reels after Swiss propose sale of reserves". Business Times. The Sunday Times. Retrieved 17 September 2011.
  14. See (French) Jakob Tanner, "Banque nationale suisse (BNS)" in Dictionnaire historique de la Suisse, 02/10/2006.
  15. (French) "Circonstances des ventes d’or de la Banque nationale suisse" - Rapport du Conseil fédéral en réponse au postulat 07.3708 Stamm Luzi, 3.09.2008
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