Switzerland: Into the 20th Century

Into the 20th Century

The half-canton of Appenzell Inner-Rhoden has long and proudly refused women the right to vote in local elections. Last week it stepped into the 20th century, but not because it wanted to. The Swiss Supreme Court in Lausanne declared that Appenzell's 4,500 women over age 20 did have the right to vote. The justices, responding to a petition by two Appenzell women, ruled that a 1981 amendment to the constitution declaring men and women equal before the law should take precedence over cantonal legislation.

"I'm relieved," said Beat Graf, head of the local administration, after hearing the decision. In the town's...

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