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Male Voters’ Bastion Falls in Switzerland

From Associated Press

Women joined men for the first time Sunday at the Appenzell-Rhodes Interior annual meeting, where voting on local matters is carried out by a show of hands in the town square.

The assembly, or Landsgemeinde, dates to the Middle Ages. Men traditionally carry swords or bayonets to indicate their voting eligibility.

Women were issued yellow cards to certify that they could take part in Sunday’s meeting. About half of the 4,000 people attending were women.

Last year, the all-male gathering in Switzerland’s smallest state had voted for the third time in two decades to keep the status quo. But the Supreme Court ruled in November that barring women violates the federal constitution.

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One speaker, criticizing the court’s ruling as “outside interference,” called for the assembly to be disbanded and replaced by ballot-box voting. But that proposal was overwhelmingly rejected.

Swiss women won the right to vote on federal matters 20 years ago. The federal constitution was revised to include a formal equal rights amendment 10 years ago.


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