Swiss Minaret vote

Over the weekend Switzerland voted in a referendum to ban Minarets (the spires on Mosques from which Muslims are called to prayer), the result of the vote was 57.5% in favour. Interestingly though the final poll before the referendum showed the opposite – voting intention in the referendum stood at 37% YES and 53% NO. The poll was conducted between Nov 9th and 14th, so there were two weeks between the fieldwork and the referendum during which opinion could easily have shifted in favour of the proposal.

What strikes me though is that it’s also the perfect example of the sort of question where there would be a high risk of social desirability bias. The proposal was opposed by the Swiss government, most political parties, the churches and the media. People may not have felt able to admit to a interviewer (the polls were conducted by phone) that they were going to vote in favour of a policy targetting Muslims and the “socially desirable” thing would have been to say they were voting against it.

We will never know how much shift in opinion there was in those last two weeks, but my guess is that the polls were probably underestimating support for the measure anyway.


54 Responses to “Swiss Minaret vote”

1 2
  1. @ HATFIELD GIRL

    Yes I probably would.
    It seems that Islam & Islamic culture ( difficult to unpick the two sometimes) are not condusive to democracy.

    You can see the worst manifestion in the harrassment of Sayeeda Warsi in Luton yesterday.

    That’s what the Swiss are worried about I think.

  2. ChrisC
    “Pete B – so all ‘natural’ impulses are OK? Do you include paedophilia or cannibalism, both of which are ‘natural’? Surely the mark of a civilised society is that ‘natural’ impulses are controlled for the greater good?”

    I’ve seen some silly posts on here but that takes the biscuit. You are equating paedophilia and cannibalism with the desire to mix with people of your own class or culture? So because a man wants to mix with others of his type at the golf club, or another at the local pub, they are equivalent to paedophiles?

    It’s also somewhat disturbing that you find these bizzarre extremes to be ‘natural’. Just to clarify, by ‘natural’ I mean that it is an instinct common to most of the human race. These things would not qualify under that definition.

    To get back to the referendum, the Swiss voted in the way that most Western people would vote, given the chance. There have been petitions against mosques in various parts of our own country. These are usually only publicised locally however.

  3. @Pete B

    I think you’re being unfair on ChrisC. He didn’t equate anything to paedophilia – he was just using an extreme example to make the point that not all natural impulses are okay.

  4. @James Ludlow

    To go back to my previous example, the Lisbon treaty runs to several hundred pages. Can you honestly say you’d have read it before voting in a referendum if we’d had one?

    It would have put us in a situation where we either had to spend a large proportion of our spare time reading a long boring documents that few people would be able to understand anyway, or voting on something we weren’t properly informed on. That is an unfair burden to place on someone who wishes to be an active citizen, and it is is not very democratic.

    You might as well ask people to vote for Option A or Option B without telling them what it means, and then claim that the outcome is the will of the people.

1 2