The right to vote - PAU Cataluña 2014

>Exámenes selectividad inglés Cataluña resueltos

The right to voteVotes for women? What a ridiculous idea!” Some of the arguments that male voters used in the past to prevent women the right to vote would seem unacceptable to most of us nowadays. However, many people would be surprised to read that the women of Switzerland received the right to vote in 1971, and yet canton Appenzell Innerrhoden resisted until 1991. Most male and female residents in that part of the country saw the law preventing women’s suffrage as one of their cultural traditions, along with voting by assembly in the town square. Only after two women filed suit with the Swiss Federal Court was the canton forced to extend suffrage to its female residents.
Some argued that women were less intelligent than men, that their brains were smaller than men’s. Others feared women would go out to campaign without asking their husbands’ permission. The point was also raised for equality because, they said, “women’s natural modesty would stop them going out to vote when pregnant, and since rural women have more babies than those in towns, this would give an unfair advantage to the latter.” “And if women were actually elected, that would be a source of humiliation for their husbands!”
Such were the arguments that convinced Switzerland’s male population to turn down every proposal to allow women the vote. In New Zealand women had the right to vote since 1893 and in most European countries since the end of World War I. Even though both chambers of the Swiss parliament finally gave the green light to women’s suffrage in 1958, more than 50 years after Europe’s pioneer Finland, when proposed to the people, two thirds of the male citizens turned parliament’s recommendation down.
But it wasn’t as if Swiss women had stood idly waiting for their rights to be given to them. Emilie Kempin-Spyri (1853-1901), Switzerland’s first woman lawyer, had claimed that the article of the Federal Constitution which stated “All Swiss are equal before the law” meant that men and women had equal rights. However, this assertion was rejected by the Swiss Federal Court.
The first feminist association was established in 1868, calling for civil rights, and the right to attend university. There had been proposals to include women’s suffrage in the 1874 constitution. In 1929 a petition for voting rights managed to collect a quarter of a million signatures—but it was ignored.
Switzerland’s system of direct democracy, which gave voters the final say on legislation, ironically kept women out. However, the extensive autonomy of even the smallest administrative units gave them their chance to break in to political life. It was a tiny commune in Canton Valais that, in 1957, was the first to allow its women members to vote. Several cantons gradually followed and in the 1960s women started occupying more and more important positions in local parliaments and governments. In 1968 Geneva, then the country’s third largest city, had a woman mayor—but she still couldn’t vote in federal elections.
When the human rights convention of the Council of Europe was signed, Switzerland remained out of those parts that call for sexual equality. The protest this provoked forced the government to revise its position and a new referendum was put to the country.
The result: on February 7th 1971 Swiss males finally gave their female compatriots the full federal voting rights by a two thirds majority. The official results showed 621,403 of the all-male electorate supported the vote for women and 323,596 were against.
Text adapted from
  • canton: One of the several states which form the Swiss Confederation.
  • suffrage: vot / voto
  • filed suit (to file suit): demandar, portar a judici / demandar, llevar a juicio
  • turn down (to turn down): rebutjar / rechazar
  • idly: inactiu / inactivo
  • break in (to break in): entrar, introduir-se /entrar, introducirse



Choose the best answer according to the text. Only ONE answer is correct.
[4 points: 0.5 points for each correct answer. Wrong answers will be penalized by deducting 0.16 points. There is no penalty for unanswered questions.]

1. Women in Switzerland got their right to vote
2. In the text, which of these arguments for not giving women the right to vote is FALSE?
3. According to the text, when the Swiss parliament proposed to pass the vote for women in 1958,
4. The text explains that Swiss women
5. Although Switzerland’s system of direct democracy kept women out of their right to vote in federal elections,
6. At the human rights Convention of the Council of Europe, Switzerland
7. According to Emilie Kempin-Spyri, the Swiss Federal Constitution
8. Swiss women finally gained full right to federal vote


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