Fifty years ago, Switzerland’s electorate doubled in size at a stroke. The introduction of votes for women in 1971 constituted the largest expansion of the voting public in the history of the nation’s democratic system. Half a century on from that momentous event, the Swiss National Library takes a close look at political and cultural participation in Switzerland.
Today, foreign citizens, minors and those under guardianship are excluded from the Swiss political process. At the same time, around half of the adult Swiss population chooses not to exercise its right to vote. Who is entitled to vote in Switzerland? How has change come about in the past? And how will political participation evolve in future? The exhibition “Vote Now!” seeks answers to those questions, for voters and non-voters alike.
The collections of the Swiss National Library contain many examples of those who have had their say in the past. They include almost all publications by Swiss citizens, offering a unique insight into the history of co-determination in Switzerland. In addition to this general overview, “Vote Now!” also shows how the right to vote had to be fought for. It turns the spotlight on Alice Ceresa, Mariella Mehr and Doris Stauffer – three female Swiss authors, artists and activists who made their voices heard despite all the obstacles placed in their way. A video installation specially developed for the exhibition by the internationally renowned artist duo Gawęda Kulbokaitė bridges the gap between historical positions and the present day.