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05.09.2016
Want to campaign for a cause at the Main Station?


Anyone wanting to campaign for a particular cause at the Main Station, whether it be party-political, environmental or related to some association, may do so without having to obtain prior permission as long as they remain in a 1.5 square-metre designated area and for no longer than 20 minutes. Neither talking nor music is allowed, nor is it permissible to erect a stand or engage in any commercial activity. In short, this is what an SBB pilot project is suggesting for people with a message to impart.
 
For its part, the Tages-Anzeiger newspaper considers this project totally ridiculous and posed a few questions. “How can anyone try to collect signatures from people without talking to them and without stepping over the white lines demarcating the small zone? What about a members of the Salvation Army? Not many would be able to gather in this small area anyway. Will they not be allowed to sing a carol at Christmas time and shake a tin to collect donations? Might this be this be construed as commercial activity?
 
What is more, who is going to police this? Is there going to be a security man there with a stop watch and whistle, making sure no-one oversteps the boundary, showing his red card to everyone who transgresses before sending them off to the public pavement?”
 
This is what the SBB has come up with following a ruling by the Swiss Federal Court in Lausanne that political advertising at stations is to be allowed (a similar pilot project is ongoing at the station at Geneva Airport). “We want passengers to be able to move freely around the station,” said a spokesman for the SBB. “We do not want them pestered.”
 
Of course, as the Tages-Anzeiger pointed out, if you have enough money, you can pay to hire the whole station concourse to promote any commercial activity you want, and in doing so hinder as many passengers you like, and even deafen them with loud music at the same time if you want. “Yet those with a particular cause they wish to promote are to be confined to these tiny areas in some remote corner. Surely, anyone who has a political cause to promote should be able to do so an area with sufficient space and given enough time, just like anywhere else. If passers-by feel they are pestered by such an activity. it will not take long for them to make their feelings known to the campaigners,” the newspaper concluded.
 


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