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Swiss Voters Reject Basic Income Initiative
World Economy

Swiss Voters Reject Basic Income Initiative

Swiss voters rejected by a wide margin a proposal to introduce a guaranteed basic income for everyone living in the wealthy country, projections by the GFS polling group for Swiss broadcaster SRF showed on Sunday.
First projections showed around 78% of voters rejected the initiative by Basel cafe owner Daniel Haeni and allies in a vote under the Swiss system of direct democracy, but it captured an uneasy debate about the future of work at a time of increasing automation, Reuters reported.
Supporters had said introducing a monthly income of 2,500 Swiss francs ($2,563) per adult and 625 francs per child under 18 would promote human dignity and public service. Opponents, including the government, said it would cost too much and weaken the economy.
Haeni acknowledged defeat but claimed a moral victory.
“As a businessman, I am a realist and had reckoned with 15% support, now it looks like more than 20% or maybe even 25%. I find that fabulous and sensational,” he told SRF.
“When I see the media interest, from abroad as well, then I say we are setting a trend.”
Separately, the Swiss also rejected overwhelmingly a proposal that state-owned utilities, including Swisscom, the telecoms operator, should be run as non-profit organizations—with top executives’ pay capped at levels of comparable government officials.
Switzerland is the first country to hold a national referendum on an unconditional basic income, but other countries including Finland are examining similar plans.
The Swiss government had urged voters to reject the campaign, saying the scheme would cost too much and undermine societal cohesion.
The plan included replacing in full or in part what people got from social benefits.
The cabinet had said it recognized the overarching goal but this particular proposal would cost an estimated 208 billion Swiss francs a year, significantly weaken the economy and discourage people, especially low earners, from working.
Much of the cost could be covered by existing social security payments, but sharp spending cuts or tax increases would have to make up a remaining gap of 25 billion francs, it said.
An advanced social safety net already supports people who cannot pay themselves for their livelihood, it pointed out.

 

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