One hand holds an orange ballot paper, members of the Assembly of Delegates in the background.

M-Democracy

The Migros Parliament decides

As a cooperative, Migros gives its members the opportunity to express their opinions on amendments to the articles of association. The fact that this Migros democracy is not an alibi exercise is proven by the question of the ban on the sale of alcohol, which could soon be put to a vote.

From
Pierre Wuthrich
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Unlike Cumulus cardholders, Migros cooperative members not only receive the Migros magazine free of charge and are kept directly informed about the activities of their cooperative. As co-owners, they can actively participate and thus fill the Migros idea with life. This can be done by participating in the annual ballot. And it can also mean getting involved personally, whether at the regional level as a member of a cooperative council or as a delegate at the national level. These bodies represent the cooperative members and customers within Migros.

Cooperative members, members of the cooperative councils and delegates have a say when Migros amends its articles of association on important issues. For example, no amendments to the FMC articles of association can be adopted without the approval of the Assembly of Delegates (AoD). It may also happen that the AoD must decide whether a topic should be discussed in the Migros committees. This would give the cooperative councils of each region the opportunity to express their opinions on a change to the articles of association and finally submit the decision to the cooperative members for a vote.

This is precisely what could happen with the controversial question of whether the ban on the sale of alcohol in the Migros branches should be lifted (see below). The decision of the cooperative members is binding for Migros. This is Migros democracy, a decision-making process that is unique in the Swiss economy.

Sell alcohol? The timetable

The articles of association of Migros currently prohibit the sale of alcoholic beverages in brick-and-mortar Migros branches. Migros democracy enables a discussion and a resolution on this issue. The process starts on 6 November 2021. After a unique, democratic and complex process, which might ultimately involve no less than 32 different Migros bodies, an amendment to the articles of association would be possible, allowing wine, beer and spirits to be sold on Migros shelves.

6 November 2021

At the request of five delegates and after acceptance by the FMC Administration, the Assembly of Delegates decides on the following question: Do you support the amendment of the FMC articles of association and the contracts between the FMC and the ten Migros cooperatives in order to lift the ban on the sale of alcohol in Migros brick-and-mortar branches and therefore give the cooperative members the opportunity to resolve this important issue in a ballot?

By 3 December 2021

If at least two thirds of the Assembly of Delegates agree, the administrations and cooperative councils of the ten regional Migros cooperatives will meet in a next step. The regional bodies must then decide for their respective cooperative whether they also agree to lifting the ban on the sale of alcohol and whether they will put the issue to the cooperative members in a ballot.

By 4 June 2022

A ballot is held in those cooperatives where at least two thirds of the members of the respective administration and at least two thirds of the respective cooperative council have voted in favour. The members of the cooperative can now answer the following question with yes or no: «Do you want to lift the ban on the sale of alcohol in Migros branches and agree to the amendment of the regional articles of association?»

In the course of 2023

Alcoholic beverages would now only be allowed on the shelves in the branches of regional cooperatives whose members voted by a majority of two-thirds in favour of lifting the ban. So depending on the outcome, regional differences are possible - perhaps branches of the Lucerne cooperative would sell wine in the future, while this would still not be allowed in the supermarkets of the Eastern Switzerland cooperative.

Dictionary

Migros cooperative member: Holder of a share certificate and thus co-owner of one of the ten regional Migros cooperatives. Every member has the right to vote on the annual accounts of their cooperative or on amendments to the articles of association such as lifting the ban on the sale of alcohol. Migros has a total of over 2.2 million members.

Cooperative council: Regional body responsible for approving the annual accounts of its cooperative. The cooperative council serves as an important bridge between the cooperative members and the administration.

Delegate: Member of the cooperative council of his/her regional cooperative and of the FMC Assembly of Delegates (see below), elected for a four-year term in each case.

Assembly of Delegates: National body composed of delegates from the ten regional cooperatives. The Assembly of Delegates is the only body authorised to amend the articles of association of the FMC.

Administration: Roughly corresponds to the board of directors of a public limited company. In particular, the Administration sets the strategy and business objectives of the company and monitors their achievement. There is one Administration for the FMC and one for each of the ten regional cooperatives.

FMC: The Federation of Migros Cooperatives is a cooperative association. The affiliated regional cooperatives, the companies belonging to them and the foundations form the Migros Community, or Migros for short.

More information on the organisation & structure of Migros