Survey on Swiss Energy Policy: Women and Young People Go Unheard 53% of women and 56% of persons below thirty approved the Swiss Green Party's Nuclear Phase-Out Initiative, while only 39% of men and 37% of persons above sixty agreed with the proposal to limit the lifespan of Swiss nuclear power plants to 45 years. A representative survey by the University of St. Gallen investigated the reasons for these differences. Researchers at the Institute for Economy and the Environment (IWÖ-HSG) at the University of St. Gallen investigated the opinions of over 1,000 persons with voting rights in the period leading up to the vote. Initial conclusions may be drawn for the upcoming Energy Strategy 2050 referendum based on this study, which reflected the official results with a deviation of just 0.2 percentage points. Marked differences between genders For a period of six weeks before the popular vote on November 27, 2016, 62% of respondents indicated that they would "definitely" or "likely" support the initiative, but support fell to 50% three weeks before the vote, and had decreased to just under 46% by the day of the vote. The trend was visible for both men and women, but the differences in approval ratings between the genders remained significant throughout. It was also noteworthy that men decided to reject the initiative earlier on. In the first survey, 25% of men, but only 8% of women indicated that they would "definitely" reject the initiative. In communications regarding the initiative, this could have been an advantage: In households in which at least one other member rejected the initiative, only 22% of women voted yes. Communication with people holding different opinions could help overcome knowledge deficits A current trend in many areas of politics is the increasing polarization of informational and communicative behavior. With the Nuclear Phase-Out Initiative as well, 59% of respondents indicated that they "frequently" or "sometimes" spoke to like-minded people, while only 45% of respondents "frequently" or "sometimes" spoke to those who thought differently. In the context of the US presidential elections, discussions are currently ongoing as to whether the formation of "echo chambers," in which like-minded people perform only limited checks on information to determine how realistic it is, has an influence on political decision-making processes. In the case of the Nuclear Phase-Out Initiative, it is significant that a large percentage of the respondents were not able to correctly answer a number of knowledge-based questions, and that acceptance of the initiative grew linearly with increasing knowledge. This indicates that there is a need to take action for future votes in the energy sector. Stable preferences regarding phase-out of nuclear energy Some observers interpret the rejection of the initiative by the majority as a pro-nuclear energy vote. The results of the survey do not support this interpretation. During the first round of surveys, 74% of respondents agreed with the statement that Switzerland should phase out nuclear power and invest in renewable energy; only 17% rejected this statement. In the first and third rounds, 62% and 64% of respondents respectively were convinced that an orderly nuclear phase-out was feasible, as new technologies for climate-friendly power generation would be able to bridge the gap in power supply requirements. According to the opponents, the overly ambitious timeline was responsible for the rejection by the majority. However, only a minority perceived this timeline in a realistic manner. Around two thirds of respondents assumed that, if the initiative were adopted, 50% of power generation in Switzerland would need to be replaced by other sources within the next two years; in reality, the three older nuclear power plants which would be scheduled for shutdown during this period account for only 15% of electricity production. Only 39% of the persons who were wrongly informed in this regard supported the initiative, while the percentage of supporters among those correctly informed was 57%. Approval trend for Energy Strategy 2050 In the period leading up to the vote, the Swiss Federal Council and a parliamentary majority designated Energy Strategy 2050 as an alternative to the Green Party's Nuclear Phase-Out Initiative. If the Energy Strategy referendum were to be held today, there is a good chance that it would be approved by a majority vote. Only 11% of respondents indicated that they were "likely" or "definitely" against the Energy Strategy referendum. Fifty-five percent would "definitely" or "likely" approve it. The highest percentage of persons who indicated their support of the referendum can be found among the liberal parties. 76% of GLP voters and 68% of FDP voters indicated that they would "definitely" or "likely" vote in favor of the Energy Strategy referendum. Among SVP voters, this percentage was 40%, compared to 21% who would "definitely" or "likely" vote no. However, unlike the Nuclear Phase-Out Initiative, for which many respondents decided their position early on, the number of undecided voters remains relatively high.