The paid collection of signatures for grassroots initiatives is a profitable business. In French-speaking Switzerland, two companies have very limited control of this market. Two and a half years after the revelations of Mise au Point on the existence of this environment and its excesses, nothing or almost nothing has changed.
A 7:30 pm RTS team reopened the Mise au Point investigation in the heart of Lausanne, the capital of Vaud. Almost every day, a dozen young people, with three or four different grassroots initiatives in hand to get Lausanne residents to sign up, bustle on the busy streets.
>> First review of the Focus Survey of February 2, 2020:
Among the 25 texts currently in the process of collecting signatures, one stands out. Launched by elected SVPs, the so-called “La nuit porte conseil” initiative aims to impose a cooling-off period of twenty-four hours before any abortion. A passer-by was shocked by the way this text was presented to her.
“The first thing he told me was, in essence, that the text was intended to facilitate access to abortion. I found it strange, so I asked to read the text of the law that accompanied the collection of signatures. . There I realized that it was not like that at all, “says Emilie Savioz into the microphone at 7:30 pm.
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To understand the abuses in these signature collection processes, already denounced by the Mise au Point program two years ago, the 7:30 pm team continued its investigation by approaching the two actors who share this market in French-speaking Switzerland.
Vox Communication is the first company to have agreed to receive journalists from RTS. At its helm, its founder, a 27-year-old Frenchman, Jérôme Campese. His company employs about fifteen people, paid with their initials and trained by him.
“In an hour and a half I have plenty of time to train you on the four initiatives, to train you on the questions that will be asked and on how to fill in the form”, explains the entrepreneur. The arguments of his employees could not be heard in the investigation. The committees in charge of the initiatives in the collection phase would have opposed, according to the Vox boss.
Just arrived from France a few days earlier, Florent Pernet, a harvester, still answered RTS’s questions. He assures that he is not tempted to lie because of his signature salary: “It goes from 1.50 to 3 francs. A normal day is about a hundred signatures, it’s worth it. We have four initiatives, there are two that I don’t I really like them, so I just don’t use them. “
“Hourly pay” in Incoop?
A few days later, the door until then closed to Inop, the other player of this market, also opens to the 19:30 team. Created 10 years ago, this association loves discretion. On the ground, some of his collaborators lied to RTS reporters claiming to work for Vox or to be independent.
Incop founder and president Franck Tessemo denies asking him and takes offense when the 7:30 pm team talks to him about “distorted truth” to collect the initials. “We are fighting against this. Faced with this phenomenon, we are setting an hourly wage to avoid it”, he defends himself.
The collaborator that the RTS team has been authorized to follow by the president of Incoop in full harvest for the “Stop the Blackout” nuclear lobby initiative is still well and truly paid upon signing. And he remains rather vague when passersby ask him questions about the commission behind the text. “Is it an initiative of the Greens or the young Greens?” Says a passer-by. “No, they are people from various parties and SuisseEnergie engineers”, replies the collector.
National motion rejected
Outraged by these practices, National Socialist Councilor Baptiste Hurni tried in vain to have them banned nationwide. His text was rejected a year ago. “The Federal Council, in its response to my motion, said: there are no structural problems”, a response that disappointed the resident of Neuchâtel.
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However, the national councilor is pleased that the practice has been banned in the canton of Neuchâtel and that it is better regulated in Geneva. He hopes that the canton of Vaud will follow suit, even if all attempts at regulation have so far failed.
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TV subject: Carole Pantet
Web adaptation: Julien Furrer