Half of Swiss support Responsible Business Initiative in early voting day estimates

FILE PHOTO: A small banner reading: “Responsible Business Initiative – Yes on November 29” is fixed to the frame of a bicycle in Zurich, Switzerland November 23, 2020. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo

ZURICH (Reuters) – Half of Swiss voters on Sunday supported a constitutional amendment extending Swiss companies’ liability over human rights abuses and environmental harm caused abroad, according to first estimates by Swiss broadcaster SRF.

Voters are choosing in a referendum on Sunday between new proposals by the Responsible Business Initative, which would change the Swiss constitution, and a milder government version that would force firms to step up checks on their overseas operations and supply chains but stops short of extending liability to Swiss courts.

According to first counts, 50.0% of voters accepted the Responsible Business Initiative’s proposals to make large companies and those in high-risk businesses liable in Swiss courts for violations caused by firms they control. But the vote must also gain backing in a majority of cantons, a necessary condition for a public initiative to be enacted in Switzerland.

Reporting by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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